May 6, 2011 / 12:15 AM / 6 years ago

"Thor" set for thunderous debut at box office

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.

<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>

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.

Warner Bros.’ “Something Borrowed” and Screen Gems’ “Jumping the Broom” are looking to serve as “Thor” counterprogramming and take advantage of Mother’s Day on Sunday. Tracking shows “Something Borrowed” opening in the $10 million to $12 million range, while “Jumping the Broom” should hit $10 million.

“Something Borrowed” stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson and John Krasinski. The ensemble cast of “Jumping the Broom” includes Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Mike Epps.

“The Beaver” opens in 22 theaters in the top 10 markets ahead of its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival later this month. The story revolves around a man’s transformation through the use of a puppet. Foster stars alongside Gibson, her longtime pal. It was supposed to open last year, but its release was delayed after Gibson became embroiled in controversy over a series of tape recordings made by his former girlfriend.

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