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Box Office Preview: 'Thor' Eyes $60 Mil U.S. Debut

Loki and Thor
Paramount
"Thor"

The Paramount tentpole faces off against new comedies "Something Borrowed" and "Jumping the Broom."

Paramount summer tentpole Thor lands in North America this weekend, hoping to spawn a superhero franchise for Marvel Studios. The pic is expected to open more in the range of Marvel's X-Men or Fantastic Four and not in the neighborhood of Iron Man or Spider-Man.

According to tracking, Thor -- which has already grossed $125 million overseas -- has a strong shot at nearing $60 million or more in its domestic debut.

Also opening this weekend to mark the official start of the summer box office season are two comedies: Warner Bros.' Something Borrowed and Screen Gems' Jumping the Broom, which targets African-American audiences. Launching in a limited run is Jodie Foster's high-profile indie drama The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson.

Thor is expected to win the domestic race, since Universal's box office hit Fast Five will be in its second weekend. Observers expect Fast Five to still do substantial business, grossing as much as $35 million to $40 million.

Overseas, however, Fast Five could win out over Thor as it expands into 30 additional markets. Both event pics opened overseas first. Thor won the international race last weekend, playing in far more territories than Fast Five.

On Wednesday, Fast Five jumped the $200 million mark worldwide with a domestic cume of $103.2 million and a foreign gross of $100.3 million.

Fast Five and Thor are making for a promising start to summer after a long-running downturn at the domestic box office.

Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, his first tentpole pic. The film stars Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder, while Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins also headline.

Thor is the first of two summer tentpoles from Marvel and Paramount. The second, Captain America: The First Avenger, opens July 22.

Paramount insiders say Thor should do bigger business than the first installments of Marvel properties X-Men and Fantastic Four as well as The Incredible Hulk (2008), which all debuted in the $55 million to $56 million range.

Thor should be helped by strong reviews. The movie is tracking best among males of all ages, while interest among younger women has picked up noticeably in the past week.

Indeed, younger women are just as interested as seeing Thor as they are Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros.' Something Borrowed, which, like Jumping the Broom, is looking to serve as counterprogramming and take advantage of Mother's Day on Sunday.

Tracking shows Something Borrowed opening in the $10 million to $12 million range, while Jumping the Broom should hit $10 million.

A romantic comedy produced and fully financed by Alcon, Something Borrowed stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, John Krasinski and Colin Egglesfield. Hilary Swank is a producer on the film, which is based on the book by Emily Giffin.

Warners is distributing Something Borrowed via its output deal with Alcon, the company behind The Blind Side. Alcon is paying for all marketing costs.

Jumping the Broom's ensemble cast includes Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Mike Epps.

Salim Akil directed the comedy, which centers around two families from two very different environments who gather on Martha's Vineyard for a wedding.

The Beaver opens in 22 art house theaters in the country's top 10 markets. The film is a Summit and Participant Media presentation in association with Imagenation Abu Dhabi. The pic, about a man's transformation through the use of a puppet, makes its international premiere this month at the Cannes Film Festival, where it plays out of competition.

In addition to directing, Foster stars in The Beaver alongside Gibson, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence. The specialty film cost $21 million, with much of the budget covered through foreign presales.

The Beaver was supposed to open last year, but its release was delayed after Gibson became embroiled in controversy over a series of tape recordings made by his former girlfriend.