Marvel's 'Thor' soars to top of U.S.-Canada movie charts

Reuters

By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Marvel superheroThor pounded his box office competitors over the weekend,muscling movie sequel "Thor: The Dark World" to the top of U.S.and Canadian charts with a hefty $86.1 million in debut ticketsales.

The 3D film starring Chris Hemsworth trounced last week'stop movies. Raunchy comedy "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"finished in second place with $11.3 million from Friday throughSunday, according to Hollywood.com.

"Free Birds," the 3D movie featuring the voices of OwenWilson and Woody Harrelson as turkeys who team up and travelback in time to get turkey off Thanksgiving dinner plates,earned the No. 3 slot with $11.2 million, just ahead of seniorcitizen buddy comedy "Last Vegas" which took in $11.1 million.

"Thor: The Dark World" also hauled in $94 million frominternational markets, where the movie began playing on Oct. 30,distributor Walt Disney Co said. IMAX showings addedanother $11 million globally, and its combined global salesthrough Sunday reached $327 million.

The new "Thor" installment co-stars Natalie Portman as thelove interest for Thor, the mighty god of thunder who battles tosave his homeland of Asgard from evil forces. Tom Hiddlestonplays Thor's villainous brother Loki.

"Thor 2" fell a bit short of industry forecasts that itwould kick off with up to $92 million at North American (U.S.and Canadian) theaters. But the sequel opened stronger than theoriginal movie, which debuted with $65.7 million in May 2011.

Thor also appeared in 2012 smash hit movie "The Avengers,"which helped stoke interest in the character. According to apoll by the Fandango movie website, 72 percent of ticket buyerssaid fond memories of Thor in "Avengers" influenced their choiceto see "Thor: The Dark World." The "Thor" sequel cost $170million, Disney said.

"It's a great start," said Dave Hollis, executive vicepresident of distribution for Walt Disney Studios, adding thatDisney would have considered "anything north of $80 million tobe a good result."

Hollis also noted that the film was playing especially wellwith family audiences.

"Marvel has transitioned," he said. "This is an everybodypicture." Business ticked up as the weekend went on, and he saidDisney was anticipating an especially strong performance onSunday and Monday, given the Veterans Day U.S. holiday onMonday, when many schools and businesses will be closed.

Second-place film "Bad Grandpa" stars comedian JohnnyKnoxville in disguise as an 86-year-old man who travelscross-country with his 8-year-old grandson, pulling pranks onunsuspecting people they encounter on the way.

Animated movie "Free Birds" tells the tale of a pair ofturkeys that try to keep their kind off Thanksgiving dinnerplates, while "Last Vegas" follows four lifelong friends who reunite for a bachelor party. It stars Oscar winners Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline.

Last week's winner, sci-fi thriller "Ender's Game," dropped to fifth place, taking in $10.3 million after a steep drop-offof 62 percent in box office receipts.

Two films in limited release expanded to more than 1,000theaters each. Drama "12 Years a Slave," starring British actorChiwetel Ejiofor, brought in $6.6 million, while "About Time," aromantic comedy starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson,collected $5.2 million.

"Bad Grandpa" was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit ofViacom Inc. CBS Films, a unit of CBS Corp,distributed "Last Vegas." "Free Birds" was distributed byprivately held Relativity Media. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp released "Ender's Game." Fox Searchlight, a unit of 21stCentury Fox, released "12 Years a Slave." "About Time"was distributed by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp.

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