If there was an element of risk when Disney/Marvel Studios hired Kiwi director Taika Waititi to helm the Thor reboot – a massive jump in scale and ambition after his Hunt for the Wilderpeople – that now seems a very smart bet.
Thor: Ragnarok, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins, had stellar debuts last weekend in Australia and a bunch of other markets including the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Korea and Hong Kong.
The international total was $US107.6 million, which Disney rated as 34 per cent bigger than Thor: The Dark World at current exchange rates and 4 per cent up on Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The omens look terrific for the superhero adventure’s US debut this Friday.
However the muscularity of the third Thor edition exposed the fragile state of the Australian market, with no other title cracking $1 million and the holdovers plummeting by 50-60 per cent or more.
The weekend’s big disaster was Suburbicon, the George Clooney-directed black comedy starring Mat Damon, Julianne Moore and Noah Jupe, based on a script the Cohen brothers wrote in 1986.
The top 20 titles collectively minted $14.8 million, a 54 per cent spike on the prior weekend due solely to Thor’s arrival.
Waititi’s Gold Coast-shot film rang up $10.9 million at 302 locations – the biggest opening weekend ever in October and 17 per cent ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
The director inserted a few in-jokes and references to Oz and his homeland, such as one spaceship painted with the colours of the Aboriginal flag and Valkyrie’s spaceship sporting the colours of the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.
Sony’s Blade Runner 2049 ranked second, drumming up $558,000 in its fourth outing at 310 cinemas. That brings the total for the reboot directed by Dennis Villeneuve to $11.5 million. The $150 million-budgeted sci-fier has earned just $81.4 million in the US and $142 million internationally, including weekend debuts of $7.3 million in China and $2.7 million in Japan.
Warner Bros/Skydance’s disaster Geostorm, a suspense thriller starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara and Daniel Wu, has scraped up $2.4 million after taking $497,000 in its second weekend at 237.
Fox’s under-performing survival thriller/unlikely romance The Mountain Between Us reached $4.1 million after collecting $446,000 in its third weekend at 271.
Suburbicon fetched a dismal $373,000 at 195 for Roadshow and an embarrassing $US2.8 million on more than 2,000 screens in the US. Audiences may have had a sixth sense that Matt Damon playing against type as a dark-hearted husband and father in this depressing and ultra-violent film was one to avoid. Clooney and his co-writer Grant Heslov, financier Black Bear Pictures and the distributors including Paramount, which paid $US10 million for US rights, might now be wishing they’d left the Coen brothers script in a bottom drawer.
Happy Death Day, Universal/Blumhouse Productions’ micro-budgeted horror/comedy directed by Christopher B. Landon, took $328,000 in its second outing at 206 and its total topped $3 million.
eOne’s Home Again, a romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Pico Alexander and Candice Bergen, is a dud, grossing $1.3 million after the second weekend generated just $311,000 at 232.
After a lousy debut, Universal Pictures/Working Title Films’ The Snowman melted, making $252,000 at 239. The crime thriller directed by Tomas Alfredson, which stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Gainsbourg, has unearthed just $1.3 million.
Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle brought in $178,000 in its fourth frame at 243. Matthew Vaughn’s action/adventure/comedy has amassed a strapping $18.7 million Down Under and $378 million worldwide.
Among the other new releases, French director Martin Provost’s The Midwife, a drama which stars Catherine Frot, Catherine Deneuve and Olivier Gourmet, delivered a fair $85,000 on 18 screens and $221,000 including festival screenings for Palace.