Why the World Is Seeing 'Thor' Before America

<p> Chris Hemsworth delivers a breakthrough performance as a fallen Norse god.</p>   |   Zade Rosenthal/Marvel
Inside the film's U.S. premiere, executives explain the global release strategy for the Marvel superhero spectacle

If it seems like the rest of the world has seen Thor before you, it has.

The mighty Marvel movie opened in Australia two weeks ago and pretty much the rest of Planet Earth (55 territories) last weekend. The superhero extravaganza finally arrives in North America on Friday.

So why have the loyal and lowly in America and Canada been forced to wait so long?

"The people who ask that question are fanboys who are mad because they want to see it first," noted Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige at Monday's U.S. Thor premiere. "I don't blame them."

The decision rested with Marvel's distribution partner, Paramount. And when we pressed the studio's Rob Moore, he said only, "It's a global market now." Meaning that these days, international audiences are considered equally or more important when planning releases of Hollywood movies.

Plus, the peculiarities of this year's calendar also came into play.

Paramount took advantage of the big European holiday called May Day, as well as the English royal wedding on April 29, which provided many countries with a three or four-day weekend.

The early worldwide opening was also designed to maximize returns for Thor before the next big summer movie, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, chases the same four-quadrant audience in mid-May. 

"It's a strategy that's worked out pretty well," Moore said.

He ain't kidding. Thor already has made close to $100 million before landing in America.

Of course, opening big all over the world before the U.S. risks American means feeling like the film is old or isn't special. And it forces the creative team to rush from one press junket to another, which can give you bags under your eyes.

But on Monday night, director Kenneth Branagh was beaming, despite looking pale due to spending so much time in an editing booth.

"We are here, we got it made, we got it made the way that we wanted, all of these things are a series of miracles in the environment we work in," he said. "So that being the case, I'm not tired."

Feige was also beaming. He believes Thor takes Marvel movies to the next level.

"If X-Men in 2000 kicked off what would that first decade of resurgence of Marvel movies, this film, tonight, launches the next decade," he said. "We go through Avengers, introduce moviegoers to more than just capes and superpowers, we introduce them to the cosmic side of Marvel. I see (Thor) as the next stepping off point.”