UPDATED, Saturday PM: Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder held steady on Saturday despite those lower than normal CinemaScore and PostTrak exits we were seeing for a Marvel Cinematic Universe title. The Taika Waititi directed sequel grossed $41M today, we hear, which is 1% above Friday’s true take of $40.5M (That’s $69.5M less $29M in Thursday previews). This will get Thor: Love and Thunder to an estimated $140M-$143M opening per industry projections tonight.
That number is the 12th best opening for a Marvel Cinematic Universe title, after Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2‘s $146.5M.
When it comes to the box office legs for a MCU movie, those A CinemaScores do make a difference. Spider-Man: No Way Home with an A+ CinemaScore saw a 3.1x multiple off its $260.1M 3-day opening, landing it at a domestic final of $804.7M. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which had an A, generated a near 3x multiple off its $75.3M 3-day for a $224.5M stateside final gross. However, Eternals with a B CinemaScore posted a 2.3x multiple while Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with its B+ saw a 2.19x off its $187.4M opening which is resulting in a current domestic take of $411M.
Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru is looking to come in slightly under what we were seeing today with around a $45M second weekend, but still flying past $200M with $209M+. This is after a $17.3M Saturday, +20% over Friday. Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick‘s Saturday jumped 41% over Friday, $6.3M vs. $4.46M putting the pic’s 7th weekend at $15.5M, -40% for $597.4M. Warner Bros.’ third weekend of Elvis should arrive at the estimates we were seeing earlier today, $11M, for a $91.1M running total after a Saturday that was +33% over Friday, $4.4M vs. $3.3M.
The near 200K likes on Waititi’s Instagram post today:
UPDATED, Saturday AM: The good news is that Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder is delivering another $100M+ opening for the resurging theatrical business. Overall weekend ticket sales for the entire marketplace is estimated to be around $244M.
That’s 33% ahead of the same post-Independence Day weekend in 2019, when Sony and the Marvel Cinematic Universe had Spider-Man: Far From Home leading all movies to a $183.8M take. If summer has proven anything, it’s that it’s not just superhero movies that work on the big screen. Even with a big whale like Thor 4 on the marquee, there’s three other movies grossing over $10M+ this weekend.
Thor: Love and Thunder is seeing an $69.5M opening Friday (including $29M previews) on its way to a weekend that’s between $135M-$145M, 37% of that driven by premium large format screens.
Also driving sales are the top exhibitors’ upcharge on Thor: Love and Thunder. EntTelligence shows that between preview night and Friday for the pic, AMC was charging an average of $15.05/seat and Regal $14.40/seat for Thor 4, compared to the national average of $13.48/seat. Only Cinemark was below that, with an average ticket price of $12.25.
Thor: Love and Thunder‘s US/Canada start is easily the best for a Taika Waititi- directed movie, a Thor movie, and a Natalie Portman film (her previous high being Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith at $108M). The fourthquel will wind up as the third-best domestic opening of 2022, after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187.4M) and Jurassic World Dominion ($145M). There’s nothing to complain about here, even if Thor is outside its projections of $140M-$160M, because it’s a $100M+ opening. Hello! A year ago at this time, Disney was diluting the box office of Black Widow with the theatrical day-and-date Disney+ release of Black Widow ($80.3M opening), and getting sued by Scarlett Johansson, so we’ve come a long a way.
However, on the downside, and hopefully this doesn’t slow Thor: Love and Thunder‘s momentum today, or for that matter, for the rest of the summer, Marvel earns a back-to-back B+ CinemaScore here after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits for general audiences are still sitting at 3 1/2 stars with a 77% positive, not far from Eternals’ 75%. If you take Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home out of the equation, which got an A+ from audiences, that’s three Bs in a row from Disney/MCU, going back to November’s ,Eternals (B).
What’s going on here? Why the worn-down audience reactions? Is Marvel overextending itself in pumping out too many movies and Disney+ series? Do we blame the pandemic feature production rush here? (Marvel did have a big winner with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which was made during Covid and landed an “A” and eased the industry’s fears about moviegoing).
Is it Waititi’s absurdist sense of humor? Or is it more so that this particular sequel doesn’t dote on the greater multiverse motif, which the latest phase of the MCU laid down with Loki, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange 2? Thor: Love and Thunder is another wake-up call to the MCU development department, because if projects become too cookie-cutter, ticket sales will decline. Read: Eternals being one of the lower openings stateside for a Marvel movie at $71.2M. Marvel used to have the magic touch of churning out audience pleasing and critically acclaimed blockbuster films. What now?
Social media analytics corp RelishMix, of course, anticipated the audience’s attitude toward Thor: Love and Thunder before its opening:
“Energy levels and tone run wildly mixed, leaning positive — as Thor chatter has returned to pre-pandemic cynicism, playfulness, and criticism from the MCU. Some wonder if this is a comedy, while others explain that this project swings from superhero to Taika Waititi-land improv playfulness. Other threads question if Chris Hemsworth is being overshadowed alone with adoration of the role, love for Christian Bale, and talk about Natalie Portman’s gender-bending role.”
The Disney machine on social media was in full force here for Thor: Love and Thunder, with a rare reach of 1.3 billion across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. MCU stars leading the promo charge online, include Chris Hemsworth with 82.4M fans, Chris Pratt at 56.9M, Dave Bautista at 14.1M, Portman at 8M, and Waititi at 4.6M.
Pratt’s shoutout to Hemsworth with a 1M likes:
The best scores here for Thor: Love and Thunder are coming from women over 25 at 82% positive, the third-biggest demo for the movie at 24% after Men over 25 (33%) and men under 25 (26%). Diversity demos were 39% Caucasian, a great 28% Hispanic and Latino turnout, 16% African American and 13% Asian.
On the bright side through Friday, 53% of those who saw Thor: Love and Thunder bought their tickets the day when they saw the movie, which, of course, indicates, a hearty walk-up business. While Thor: Love and Thunder is playing extremely well coast to coast, the West and Southwest are the most prominent.
A big hooray to Universal, which has Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: The Rise of Gru crossing $200M this weekend, the sixth movie to do so this year. The Chris Melendandri production is seeing a 56% second weekend ease for $47.2M and an expected $211.7M ten-day cume by EOD Sunday.
Meanwhile, Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick by Sunday will be $3.5M away from crossing $600M, becoming one of a dozen movies to do so at the domestic box office. The Tom Cruise movie’s 7th weekend is $14.6M, -44%, for a $596.5M cume by EOD Sunday.
Give it up for Warner Bros.’ Elvis, which will be the second, non-franchise adult-demo, mass-appealing title to cross $100M soon, after Paramount’s adventure romantic comedy The Lost City at $105.3M. The Baz Luhrmann-directed musical biopic’s third Friday came in at $3.3M, -38% from a week ago, on its way to an estimated $11M third weekend, -40% for a $91.1M.
This is an important milestone for the domestic box office. Producers have become used to the idea of making their money by selling adult titles to streamers (of course, even pre-pandemic, but now it’s just typical). In addition, a streamer sweetens its offer to a filmmaker by making a movie on a bigger budget than a motion picture studio.
Elvis proves that not everybody wants to watch non-superhero movies at home. It’s going to be a long desert at the theatrical marketplace until Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever delivers the next $100M+ weekend opening. The next three months of wide releases for the major studios are an array of mid-sized movies with the pressure of making them event-sized releases.
Saturday AM estimates:
1.) Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) 4,375 theaters, Fri. $69.5M, 3-day $135M-$145M/Wk 1
2.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 4,427 theaters (+36), Fri $14.4M (-70%), 3-day $47.2M (-56%), Total: $211.7M/Wk 2
3.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 3,513 (-330) theaters, Fri $4.4M (-38%), 3-day $14.6M (-44%), Total $596.5M/Wk 7
4.) Elvis (WB) 3,714 theaters (-218), Fri $3.3M (-38%), 3-day $11M (-40%) Total $91.1M/Wk 3
5.) Jurassic World Dominion (Uni) 3,251 (-550) theaters, Fri $2.35M (-50%), 3-day $8.1M (-50%), Total $350M/Wk 5
6.) The Black Phone (Uni) 2,559 (-597) theaters, Fri $2.34M (-41%) 3-day $7.45M (-39%)/Total $62.1M: Wk 3
7.) Lightyear (Dis) 2,090 (-1,710) theaters, Fri $939K (-53%), 3-day $2.82M (-62%), Total $112.2M/Wk 4
8.) Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (A24) 48 theaters (+26), Fri $102K (+11%), 3-day $322,6K (+25%), Total $946K/Wk 3
9.) Everything, Everywhere All at Once (A24) 286 (-321) theaters, Fri $68,5K (-51%), 3-day $255,6K (-54%), Total $67.4M/Wk 16
10.) Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Dis) 140 (-450) theaters, Fri $87k (-19%),, 3-day $253,6K (-39%), Total $411M/Wk 10
11.) Mr. Malcolm’s List (BST) 1,057 (-327) theaters, Fri $76K (-75%), 3-day $248K (-69%), Total: $1.6M/Wk 2
UPDATED, Friday afternoon: Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder looks to be arriving around $70M for Friday on its way to a $130M-$140M opening weekend. If those estimates stick, that’s a fantastic opening. There’s nothing to be cynical about here, especially with the fourquel beating Thor: Ragnarok‘s opening Friday of $46.4M by 51% and its 3-day of $122.7M by 14% on the high end. That estimated $70M take today includes last night’s $29M in previews. If that figure maintains, it will be the ninth-best opening day for an MCU title ahead of Iron Man 3‘s $68.8M in 2013 and behind Captain America: Civil War‘s $75.5M three years later.
The Thursday night preview audience exits from Screen Engine/Comscore’s PostTrak weren’t through the roof for an MCU movie last night — which is when all the die-hards come out — notching 3 1/2 stars from general audiences and a 63% definite recommend, and 3 1/2 stars from kids under 12. Parents liked it a bit better at 4 stars. General audiences repped 84% of all ticket buyers last night with 9% parents and 4% kids. The audience skewed 58% men, 42% females with 53% between 18-34. Men over 25 were the bulk at 34%, followed by women over 25 at 25%, men under 25 at 24% and women under 25 at 16%.
Thursday night PostTrak for Eternals was a 75% positive and 3 1/2 stars from general audiences, with a 57% recommend.
UPDATED, Friday AM: Thursday night audiences made a date with Disney’s Thor: Love and Thunder, which took in $29 million from showtimes that began at 3 p.m., making it easily the second-best preview figure in 2022 behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ $36M. And for those studios trying to puff up their preview numbers with Tuesday or Wednesday night showtimes, Thor: Love and Thunder‘s cash is pure Thursday night ticket sales. Take note.
Thor: Love and Thunder‘s previews are also the fifth biggest for an MCU title behind Avengers: Endgame ($60M), Spider-Man: No Way Home ($50M), Avengers: Infinity War ($39M) and Doctor Strange 2.
Projections earlier this week had the Taika Waititi-directed fourthquel doing between $140M-$160M. Critics, despite being over the moon with Waititi’s reboot of the Marvel superhero with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok (also the highest-opening and -grossing installment in the franchise at $122.7M, and a $315M final in U.S.-Canada), have soured on this installment at 68% fresh. That said, word is fans will still love Love and Thunder and show up. The Rotten Tomatoes audience score stands at 85% to Ragnarok‘s 87%.
Given how the MCU devotees show up on Thursday night, when it comes to a Marvel title, you always have to wait it out to see how frontloaded it is, or whether it’s lassoing another ticket sales stratosphere. For example: though Avengers: Age of Ultron had a lower preview number of $27.6M next to Doctor Strange 2, it wound up posting a higher weekend take of $191.2M. Ditto for Black Panther, which did $25.2M in Thursday night business and flew to a three-day total of $202M (granted, that was over a four-day Presidents Day weekend). Still, look for Love and Thunder to easily give Oscar winner Waititi his biggest opening weekend ever.
Oh, and the fourthquel’s gross last night is also double what Ragnarok raked in from its previews which were $14.5M. Previews repped 31% of that’s movie’s $46.4M opening day.
In terms of Love and Thunder pre-sales figures, the pic came in at $48M, which though behind Doctor Strange 2‘s $85M (that pic coming off the halo of Spider-Man: No Way Home) is ahead of Jurassic World Dominion‘s $40M, Top Gun: Maverick‘s $38M and The Batman‘s $42M on the Thursday before opening day. Currently, Doctor Strange 2 has the best opening of the year at $187.4M, followed by Jurassic World: Dominion‘s $145M. That latter pic only raked in $18M off combined 4 p.m. Thursday-night and earlier-week previews. Clearly, Love and Thunder‘s weekend has to overshoot the dinosaurs’ gross.
Meanwhile, Illumination/Universal’s Minions: The Rise of Gru had a fantastic week following its July 4th-record four-day opening of $123M. Each weekday has seen double-digit-million grosses with Thursday taking in $10.3M, off 24% from Wednesday, for a first-week gross of $164.5M. That’s only 1.1% behind 2015’s Minions.