Box Office: 'Thor: The Dark World' Opens to $7.1 Million Thursday Night

9:34 AM PST 11/08/2013 by Pamela McClintock

The sequel has already earned more than $150 million overseas, where it began rolling out last weekend.

Thor: The Dark World grossed a strong $7.1 million as it opened in North America Thursday night.

The Marvel Studios and Disney 3D tentpole -- returning Chris Hemsworth in the title role -- has already earned more than $150 million overseas, where it began rolling out last weekend. The movie's international total through Thursday is $152.8 million. It opens Friday in a raft of other markets, including China.

Thor 2 could crack $90 million in its domestic debut, and don't be surprised if the movie's gross is well north of $300 million by Sunday. As a way of comparison, the first Thor took in a total of $449.3 million globally after opening to $65.7 million domestically in May 2011.

The sequel more than doubled the $3.2 million earned by Thor in midnight grosses. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, since the first film opened at midnight whereas Thor 2 rolled out at 8 p.m.

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The record opening for early November is currently held by Skyfall, which debuted to $88 million on the same weekend a year ago. The Twilight Saga: New Moon is the record-holder for best November opening with $142.8 million. (The franchise installment opened on Nov. 20, 2009).

Most films are staying out of Thor 2's way, although both 12 Years a Slave and About Time will make major expansions this weekend, hoping to provide counterprogramming.

Thor 2, like Iron Man 3, is expected to benefit from 2012 global blockbuster The Avengers, the crown jewel of Marvel's superhero film empire. The Avengers, which features Hemsworth as Thor and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, among other Marvel characters, earned $1.5 billion worldwide to become the No. 3 film of all time behind Avatar and Titanic.

Iron Man 3 debuted to $174.4 million in May and boasts the top opening of 2013 so far. That film took in $15.6 million in Thursday night runs.

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Thor 2 is sparking interest among all quadrants of the moviegoing audience. Interest is high among younger females for a superhero film, likely due to Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, who likewise returns for the follow-up alongside Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba. Thor 2 is also tracking well among Hispanics.

Thor 2 takes place one year after the events of The Avengers, as Thor reunites with Jane Foster (Portman) and tries to save his planet from a mysterious enemy. Thor also forms an uneasy alliance with his adoptive brother, Loki (Hiddleston).

Kenneth Branagh directed the first Thor, while the sequel is from filmmaker Alan Taylor.

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