There was little surprise this weekend as all of the world’s box office headlines were dominated by Thor: Ragnarok’s US launch. Industry analysts and Disney/Marvel execs were predicting a $100 million opening after Thursday’s preview showings but strong word of mouth and overwhelmingly positive reviews pushed the Chris Hemsworth led film to $121 million.
That’s enough to make Ragnarok the fourth biggest US release of 2017 behind Beauty and the Beast ($174.7 million,) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($146.5 million,) and It ($123.4 million.) Disney now owns three of the year’s top five opening weekends, and they’ll almost certainly move to four out of five after Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens next month. In overseas business, Thor 3 added $151.4 million in its sophomore weekend with a big boost coming from a strong $55.6 million debut in China where it notched the biggest November release ever for an American film.
New plays in Mexico and Germany were worth $10.8 and $8.9 million, while an uncharacteristically strong India launch was worth $5.2 million. Japan opened relatively soft with $3.5 million, while limited large format releases in Russia, ahead of its full launch later this week, were worth another $3.7 million. On the whole second week international numbers were down 40% from last week, compared to Guardians of the Galaxy 2’s 50% return frame drop. Total international plays have hit $306 million, while the combined global take is already $427 million.
Also overseas Fox’s Murder on the Orient Express opened well in the UK with $6.5 million after a big marketing push in the country, including a London premiere earlier this week. Kenneth Branagh directs this adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel. Branagh also stars as detective Hercule Poirot, and is joined by a star studded cast featuring Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Johnny Depp. Murder opens in the US next week.
Back in the US counterprogramming entry Bad Moms Christmas made its early November start in second place with $17.8 million. STX’s follow-up to their 2016 female led comedy hit sees the return of stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn, along with series newcomers Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, and Susan Sarandon. Bad Moms 2 opened in 15 overseas markets, taking $6.67 million. Highlights came from Australia and the UK where it earned $3 and $2.4 million respectively. It’s already 13% ahead of the original in those 15 territories, and worldwide sales have reached $28.2 million.
Moving onto the US specialty market, two new films highlighted a bright future for themselves after limited engagements this weekend. Vertical Entertainment’s LBJ, starring Woody Harrelson and Jennifer Jason Leigh, opened in 659 theaters with $1.138 million. The film follows Johnson’s path to the White House, from his surprise appointment as John F. Kennedy’s running mate after having challenged him in the Democratic primary to his swearing in to the presidency following JFK’s assassination in 1963. Also coming in on the boutique slate is A24’s Lady Bird, a film that is most definitely not about Lyndon Johnson’s first lady. Saoirse Ronan plays the title character, a witty, headstrong teenager with Ivy League dreams in this picture by Golden Globe nominated actress Greta Gerwig in her directorial debut. It made $375,612 in four theatres, giving it the year’s best per-theatre average at $93,903. Richard Linklater’s latest feature Last Flag Flying opened this weekend as well, though it had a tougher debut with just $42 thousand and a $10.5k average. Last Flag stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne as three veterans of a Marine squad who are reunited when Carell’s son is killed in Iraq, less than a year after joining the service.
In holdover news, Geostorm trudged to $182 million global, inching past its pre-promotional budget after three weeks in theaters. Disney’s Coco added $10.8 million in Mexico this weekend and made it to a single market cue of $27.6 million, and German comedy Suck Me Shakespeer 3 reached $46.8 million.
Along with Murder on the Orient Express, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and Mel Gibson comedy Daddy’s Home 2 and Martin McDonagh’s awards contender Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri all open in US theaters next week.