"Thor" set for thunderous debut at box office

Thu May 5, 2011 8:14pm EDT
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By Pamela McClintock

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Foreign box office champ "Thor" finally lands in North American theaters on Friday, hoping to spawn another superhero franchise for Marvel Studios.

According to industry pre-release surveys, "Thor" -- which has already grossed $125 million overseas -- has a strong shot at selling about $60 million worth of tickets during its first three days of release in the United States and Canada.

That's on par with the openings of Marvel's "X-Men" ($54 million in 2000) and "Fantastic Four" ($56 million, 2005), but far short of those for "Iron Man" ($99 million, 2008) and Spider-Man ($115 million, 2002).

Also opening Friday to mark the official start of the summer box office season are two wedding-themed comedies: "Something Borrowed" and "Jumping the Broom." Launching in a limited run is Jodie Foster's high-profile indie drama "The Beaver," starring Mel Gibson.

"Thor," starring Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder, should be helped by strong reviews. The movie is tracking best among men of all ages, while interest among younger women has picked up noticeably in the past week. Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins also headline the movie, which marks the first big-budget release directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Both "Thor" and last weekend's champ "Fast Five" are making for a promising start to summer after a lengthy downturn at the domestic box office.

Observers expect "Fast Five" to do substantial business in its second weekend, grossing as much as $35 million to $40 million. It opened to $86 million last weekend.

The rankings could be reversed internationally, with "Fast Five" moving into pole position after adding 30 markets. On Wednesday, "Fast Five" jumped the $200 million mark worldwide with a domestic total of $103.2 million and a foreign gross of $100.3 million.   Continued...

<p>Director Kenneth Branagh (C) poses with cast members Chris Hemsworth (R) and Tom Hiddleston at the premiere of "Thor" at the El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California May 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>