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Neither Bridesmaids nor Priest could stave off the mighty power of Thor this weekend. The god of thunder proved lightening can strike twice in the same place. Domestically, Chris Hemsworth’s leading man debut stands at $119.3 million. After a modest opening last week, Thor had a smaller than average percentage drop of only 48 percent. The bounty from Friday to Sunday was a generous $34.5 million but that will not last long against next weekend’s towering tentpole.
Before jumping into that, let’s examine the comedy and romance dominance on the rest of the charts. Unlike last year’s kid-friendly glut, 2011 is proving the summer of unwanted (by me, at least) comedies. Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig’s latest non-SNL project notched a respectable $24.4 million against a meager budget of $32.5 million. The comedy, compared in marketing to The Hangover, was projected to earn around $17 million. However, strong word of mouth and a multi-gender appeal pushed the little picture up a few million.
The Top Ten
1. Thor - $34.5M (weekend)…$119.3M (gross)
2. Bridesmaids - $24.4M…$24.4M
3. Fast Five - $19.5M…$168.7M
4. Priest - $14.5M…$14.5M
5. Rio - $8.0M…$124.9M
6. Jumping the Broom - $7.3M…$25.9M
7. Something Borrowed - $7.0M …$25.6M
8. Water for Elephants - $4.1M…$48.4M
9. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family - $2.2M…$50.2M
10. Soul Surfer - $1.8M …$39.2M
With spillover from next weekend’s guaranteed-to-be-sold-out shows for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Bridesmaids may benefit from being the counterprogramming option. Both Jumping the Broom and Something Borrowed are holding down sixth and seventh place giving audiences three wedding movies to choose from. If you’re more interested in what takes place after the marriage Water for Elephants has $48.4 million in the bucket as a tale of adultery.
Children still have options in Rio and Soul Surfer, which cut the middle of the charts and cap the end respectively. Rio is the second highest earner, its $124-million gross falling short of Fast Five at $168 million. Internationally, the car-racing thieves have overtaken Thor as the number one movie overseas. With an additional $271 million bagful of yen and Euros, the Vin Diesel and his band of over-the-top robbers have made off with $440 million worldwide. Thor waits in the wings with $317 million. One movie that won’t hold among those ranks is Priest.
Vampires seem to only be popular if they are young and topless teens fighting for a pale bland girl. Paul Bettany and Maggie Q don’t fit the profile. With terrible reviews and cheesy marketing, Priest fell victim to blood loss. It was dead on arrival with $14.5 million versus a $60-million budget. That budget is nothing compared to the first triple-digit opener of the summer- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow and he left the couple of wet blankets—Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly—back at the castle. Instead, Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane join the cast as rivals headed for the fountain of youth. Man-eating mermaids, powder-wigged parliament members, and Jack’s own love of rum are his formidable obstacles in this period adventure (in 3D lest you forget). This is the fourth in the long running series, whose last entry was lambasted in 2007 for being bloated. With 30 minutes shaved off its time the whimsical movie runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes; still a bit much.
Despite the poor reviews “At World’s End” was the second highest earner of the series behind the first sequel “Dead Man’s Chest.” The franchise began modestly with “Curse of the Black Pearl” in summer 2003. That opened at $46.6 million but went on to make $305 million in the United States and another $348 million internationally. Buena Vista filmed the sequels back to back anticipating the green. It was not a poor investment, “Dead Man’s Chest” made more than $1 billion after opening to the tune of $135 million. The tale of Captain Jack did wear thin with the last entry but that did not stop the money from flowing. With $114 million its first weekend, the latest sequel earned $963 million, with two thirds of the sales coming from overseas.
Although this newest sequel “On Stranger Tides” is still a bit long, it has positive early reviews. Moreover, summer has started a bit off kilter and Hollywood is due for a real hit. Expect $120 million at least, likely more due to inflated 3-D premiums. Know that your lack of support will not stop a fifth installment from being made. The drama unfolds at 4,000 theaters including IMAX.