Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Love and Thunder” is keeping the box office rolling with the summer’s fifth $100 million-plus opening, earning a $143 million launch from 4,375 theaters, with a global launch of $302 million from 47 international markets.
That result is less than than the $150-170 million projections trackers had heading into the weekend, but meets Disney’s studio projections of a $135-145 million start. Compared to past MCU films, “Love & Thunder” is opening a few steps below the $146.5 million opening of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in 2017.
It is opening higher than the $122 million opening of its direct predecessor, “Thor: Ragnarok,” though that 2017 film’s Saturday total was higher at $44.2 million compared to $41 million for “Love and Thunder.” The difference for “Love and Thunder” has been a stronger opening day, as earlier Thursday preview screenings pushed Thursday and Friday totals to $69 million compared to $46 million for “Ragnarok.”
A $325-350 million domestic run is likely in the cards for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” possibly stretching to $375-390 million if the film is able to take advantage of a relatively lighter release slate in the second half of the summer and leg out. That would be a solid victory for both Disney and theaters considering that “Thor: Ragnarok” finished with $315 million domestic and $853 million worldwide.
However, the audience reception for “Love & Thunder” continues an unprecedented trend of milder audience reception for the wildly popular MCU. Not counting the historically successful “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which was released by Sony to $1.9 billion worldwide, the last three Disney-released Marvel films have failed to earn an A or A- on CinemaScore, something that 24 of the previous 25 MCU installments had been able to do.
“Love and Thunder” received a B+ from audiences on CinemaScore, joining the B+ earned by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” in May and the B earned by “Eternals” last fall. Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak has been similar with 3.5/5 stars and a 77% positive rating, roughly the same as Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” last month but lower than the 91% positive rating that “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the last Marvel film to get a CinemaScore A, earned last September.
Earlier this summer, “Doctor Strange 2” saw its less-than-sterling reception lead it to a 67% second-weekend drop from its $187 million opening. With a lower opening weekend, “Love and Thunder” might not see such a steep drop, but we will see if word-of-mouth once again has an impact on casual audience interest, despite a lack of major new releases next weekend.
Universal/Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is second at the box office with $45.5 million, a 57% drop from the $107 million 3-day opening it earned last weekend. The animated film’s 10-day total now stands at $210 million, just behind the $215 million total earned to this point by the first “Minions” in 2015.
Third is Paramount/Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick” with $15.5 million in its seventh weekend, putting it on the doorstep of $600 million domestic with $1.18 billion grossed worldwide. “Maverick” is set to run in theaters exclusively through the end of September, and with another strong hold this weekend, it has a strong chance of finishing with over $700 million domestic, which would put it among the top 5 highest films ever in North America.
Warner Bros.’ “Elvis” is fourth with $11 million in its third weekend and a $91 million domestic total, while Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” has reached $350 million domestic with $8.4 million grossed in its fifth weekend and a global total of $876 million.