Box office report: 'Thor: The Dark World' smashes competition with $86.1 million debut

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Thor: The Dark World debuted mightily atop the domestic box office this weekend, hammering up $86.1 million from 3,841 theaters, which gave Disney’s $170 million 3-D sequel a blazing $22,418 per theater average.

Thanks to the Norse superhero’s increased exposure in last year’s mega-smash The Avengers, The Dark World debuted 31 percent higher than 2011’s Thor, which earned $65.7 million over its first three days in theaters. The film didn’t enjoy as big of a boost as Iron Man 3, which opened with $174.1 million, a 34 percent improvement over Iron Man 2‘s debut — and still the best debut of 2013.

Thor: The Dark World earned an “A-” CinemaScore grade from audiences, which Disney reports were 62 percent male and 61 percent over the age of 25. The film earned an unusually low $5.3 million of its gross from IMAX screens, though IMAX engagements were only announced on Monday, three days before the The Dark World‘s release. Grosses on the international front are much more impressive: The film pulled in another $94 million in its second weekend, bringing its international total to $240.9 million after 12 days. The original Thor earned $268 million overseas, a figure The Dark World will have passed by this time next week.

Disney successfully played up the dynamic between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Avengers breakout Tom Hiddleston) in marketing, and as a result, the movie gave the studio its best ever November opening ahead of The Incredibles, which grossed $70.5 million on opening weekend. It  had the ninth-best November start overall behind three Twilight films, four Harry Potter films, and Skyfall, which grossed $88.4 million on this weekend last year. It’s too early to tell where The Dark World will finish domestically, though it should be able to reach $200 million if it plays like Thor, which ultimately earned $181 million.

According to studio estimates, the rest of the movies in the Top 5 all finished within $1.1 million of each other. Don’t be surprised if the rankings get swapped around when final studio figures arrive on Monday afternoon.

Paramount’s $15 million prank film Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa laughed up $11.3 million this weekend. The film has now earned $78.7 million total and it will make close to $100 million before its run is over. After its lukewarm debut, Relativity’s Free Birds rose an encouraging 29 percent to $11.2 million, giving it a $30.2 million after ten days. While that bodes well for the film, Free Birds needs to fly much higher to make back its $55 million budget.

Last Vegas fell 32 percent to $11.1 million for the frame. The CBS Films comedy, which stars Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, and Morgan Freeman, has now grossed $33.5 million against a slim $28 million budget.

If only Ender’s Game had a slim budget. The $110 million sci-fi adventure continued to underperform this weekend. After topping the chart in its debut, the Asa Butterfield vehicle fell to fifth place, plummeting 62 percent to $10.3 million for a disappointing $44 million total.

1. Thor: The Dark World – $86.1 million
2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – $11.3 million
3. Free Birds – $11.2 million
4. Last Vegas – $11.1 million
5. Ender’s Game – $10.3 million

Outside the Top 5, 12 Years a Slave successfully expanded into wide release. After moving into 1,144 theaters, the harrowing drama pulled in $6.6 million total, giving it a fantastic $17.3 million total after four weekends and keeping it one of the most buzzed-about Oscar contenders of the season.

Richard Curtis’ latest rom-com About Time fared pretty well in its expansion too. Out in 1,200 theaters, the film, which stars Rachel McAdams, grossed $5.2 million, and it now has an early $6.7 million total after ten days.

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