Marvel Studios and Disney's critical darling Thor: Ragnarok is expected to rouse the U.S. box office back to life this weekend with a $100 million-plus bow, well ahead of the first two films.
Directed by acclaimed New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, the threequel sees the Asgardian god (Chris Hemsworth) team up with brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and pal Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to fight the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett). Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins also star.
Thor: Ragnarok currently boasts a 97 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — the top score of any film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (sorry, Iron Man and Captain America).
Overseas, the event film opened to a thunderous $109 million last weekend from about 50 percent of the international marketplace. It debuts in the rest of the world this weekend, including China.
In North America, Thor: Ragnarok will play in 4,080 theaters, including on 391 Imax screens. All 16 MCU movies have opened at No. 1, and Thor: Ragnarok won't be any different. Waititi's film also should have no trouble securing the top debut for a superhero film unfurling in November. Thor: The Dark World, released in November 2013, is the current record-holder with $85.7 million, followed by 2016 MCU title Doctor Strange ($85 million).
The first Thor launched to $65.7 million in May 2011, making Thor: Ragnarok the rare franchise installment to wield a heavier hammer than previous installments, should all go as planned.
In terms of the top November openings among any film genre, installments in the The Hunger Games and Twilight top the chart, led by 2013's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($158.1 million).
The frame's other major new offering is STXfilms' A Bad Moms Christmas, which opened to a muted $2.6 million on Wednesday from 3,615 theaters. Going after women, the sequel had hoped to post a five-day debut in the $22 million-$25 million range, on par with the first film ($23.8 million). Based on Wednesday's gross, the R-rated comedy may not clear $20 million unless it enjoys an especially strong Thursday and weekend.
So far, reviews, including The Hollywood Reporter's, are decidedly mixed. Ditto for audiences, who gave the R-rated comedy a B CinemaScore.
It isn't the first time a Hollywood studio has opened a Christmas-themed film so far out from the actual holiday — Universal's Almost Christmas launched in early November 2016 — but it's far more commonplace to wait until December. At the same time, December is far intimidating in terms of the competition.
This year, Christmas is coming early all the way around in terms of comedies. Bad Moms Christmas only has a week to itself before Paramount opens Daddy's Home 2, which is also holiday-themed.
Bad Moms stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn return in the sequel. This time out, they rebel against the expectations of having to create the perfect holiday, on top of hosting their own mothers, played by Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon. Bad Moms Christmas reunites filmmakers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore with producer Suzanne Todd.
Elsewhere, Electric Entertainment is opening the political biopic and awards hopeful LBJ in 659 theaters. The movie, directed by Rob Reiner, is toplined by Woody Harrelson as the titular president. Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Kim Allen, Michael Stahl-David, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey Donovan and Dough McKeon also star.
At the specialty box office, A24 opens Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig, in select theaters.
Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m. Updated with Wednesday numbers for A Bad Moms Christmas.