Thor 2 (The Dark World) opened last week to some pretty astounding numbers. This weekend, we’ll see if lightning can strike twice. But what was so unusual about last week?
Thor 2’s $86 million opening weekend haul is impressive by any measure, but it’s more than just a big number. Many films will be noted for outselling the next 3 films combined. When the number one film outsells the other top 10 films, that’s news in itself. Those achievements pale compared to what The Dark World did this weekend. According to tracking data at Boxofficemojo.com, TDW’s actual North American gross receipts was $85.7 million. That’s $3.5 million more than all other films showing in North America combined – all 114 of them.
Thor 2 is also noted for opening $20 million (over 30%) higher than the first Thor . A sequel outselling it’s parent by any amount is an automatic sign of a solid franchise. Yet, some are predicting the typical 60% to 70% second weekend drop. However, the original Thor only dipped 47% – exceptional for a sci-fi / comic book adaptation. Given TDW is a good film with a reasonably fulfilling story, excellent production values, and its insanely charismatic cast, and given the public’s good will towards it, it seems likely TDW will hold as well as the original. Also consider the only tent-pole scheduled this weekend, The Wolf of Wall Street, has been delayed until Christmas, and TDW’s dominating in mythological proportions seems all but certain.
Still, if a swords and sandals fantasy wrapped up in modern sci-fi costumes doesn’t draw your interest, About Time also enters it’s second week.
Notting Hill and Four Weddings and Funeral scribe Richard Curtis is in exceptional form this go round. Employing a relaxed time-travel hook to his usual rapid-fire witty banter rom-com framework, Curtis allows us to realize our ‘what-if’ fantasies of re-doing our most awkward social failures. Little time is spent contemplating the paradoxes of time-travel, and strict limits are placed early on to prevent even considering them. Instead, the protagonist makes quick use of his skill to fix those mistakes, and create his perfect life. The dilemmas mount later in the film, after quite a long stretch of some very, very, very funny dialogue. Eventually, sappy sentimentality takes over, but the cast is so infectiously likeable that even the UPS drivers, professional wrestlers, and Alaskan loggers in the audience will discretely dab at slight tears they might deny even existed.
About Time is a clever contemplation of what it means to be alive, and how we choose our destinies. The sci-fi element may help to get your boyfriend in the seat, but the film will sell itself once he’s there. With characters anyone can identify with, and over stuffed with worst case socially uncomfortable scenarios, About Time is one of Curtis’s funniest and most accessible films.
The most notable new film opening wide is The Best Man Holiday, a sequel to The Best Man, a modest comedy that has remained popular since it came out 14 years ago.