(L-R): Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios' 'Thor: Love and Thunder'. (Photo: Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.)

Thor: Love and Thunder has come out swinging, generating $20.4 million since opening last Wednesday.

That is the second best debut since the pandemic began, behind only Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Shot in Sydney and led by Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, Thor: Love and Thunder is Kiwi director Taika Waititi’s second take on the Marvel version of the Norse God.

The film sees Hemsworth’s Thor enlist the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Portman), to combat Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale). Also starring is Russell Crowe as Zeus, whose Greek accent has Twitter equal parts baffled and amused, Jaimie Alexander and Chris Pratt.

Love and Thunder opened on Wednesday for Disney to $4.5 million, before generating $15.8 million through the four-day weekend from 826 screens – a monster average of $19,079.

The result is a franchise best Thor franchise, well ahead of 2017’s Ragnarok, which opened to $10.1 million ($13.5 million previews).

Pro-rata, by the 5-day numbers, Australia was actually ahead of the US/Canada, where Love and Thunder made $US143 million. The global tally stands at $US302 million, with other strong markets including Korea, the UK, Mexico and India.

The solid commercial result comes despite a middling critical one – Love and Thunder has sported less favorable reviews when compared to Ragnarok. It has a 68 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has generated headlines such as Thor: Love and Thunder Makes You Wonder If Marvel’s Okay”.

In IMAX, Thor: Love and Thunder has been released in an exclusive expanded aspect ratio (1.9:1) presentation. IMAX Melbourne GM Richard Morrison tells IF he was delighted Disney had delivered another “Marvel masterpiece”.

Thor provided the ideal way to cap off an incredibly successful winter holiday at IMAX Melbourne, helping boost admissions and ticket revenue to record levels for a two week school holiday period,” he says.

The MCU can tend to suck much of the life out of the rest of the box office. One exhibitor described Thor: Love and Thunder to IF as “untouchable” but the rest of the weekend as patchy.

However, Numero puts the top 20 films at $30.3 million through the four-day weekend, up 20 per cent on the previous – only half of that can be attributable to Thor’s hammer.

As Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell puts it, most of the holdovers dropped a reasonable amount.

Minions came off a high a bit as expected but remained very popular, Jurassic World is nearing the end of its run and easing off reasonably fast now, Lightyear has been disappointing overall and didn’t pickup as much as hoped through holidays, and Elvis and Top Gun continue to power on and broaden their markets,” he says.

“The reality is that not all sites, especially small sites, can hold onto all 6 films and/or give them good session times, so the drops for Top Gun and Elvis in particular most likely reflect this reality more than any perceived waning of patron interest.”

The second best performer of the weekend was Minions: The Rise of Gru, which at $6.3 million dropped just 23 per cent in its third frame. That puts the Universal title at $27.9 million so far, with the film benefitting from school holidays around the country.

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis generated another $2.8 million in its third, taking its total to $21.3 million, making it already the 14th highest grossing Australian film of all time (not adjusting for inflation). Australia is the third best performing territory for the film behind US/Canada and the UK.

Top Gun: Maverick has jetted past the $78 million mark for Paramount, with its seventh weekend tallying $2.7 million. As IF has reported, the film is on track to overtake Spider-Man: No Way Home ($80.4 million) to become the fourth highest grossing film to ever be released in Australia. The highest grossing film ever released was Avatar ($115.8 million), then Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($94 million) and Avengers: End Game ($84.2 million).

Five weekends in and Jurassic Park Dominion is still showing signs of life, with a $1.7 million result advancing the Universal title to $33.7 million.

Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear has proven far less popular with school kids than Minions, with the film coming in at $938,257 in its fourth frame, moving to $9.4 million.

No other title even came close to the top six performers, or even cracked six figures.

In seventh position was White Hill’s Punjabi drama Shareek 2, which rung up $70,961 from 39 screens – a modest screen average of $1,820.

On average, Signal Pictures’ Korean actioner The Roundup performed better, making $66,905 from 21 screens for an average of $3,186 – which is ahead of Lightyear.

After performing consistently week-on-week, Roadshow’s Everything Everywhere All at Once fell 56 per cent in its 13th frame with $58,172 – a result that was just enough to see it cross the $6 million mark.

Rounding out the top 10 was Rialto’s Russian-originating animation My Sweet Monster, which made $38,417 in its third to move to $190,757.

Next weekend sees the opening of two films pitched the older demographic: UK/Australian co-production Falling for Figaro, directed by Ben Lewin and starring Danielle Macdonald and Joanna Lumley, and Universal’s British golf dramedy The Phantom of the Open, starring Mark Rylance.

Coming up later in July is Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing, with some exhibitors reporting decent pre-sales, as well as Universal’s Ethan Hawke horror The Black Phone.

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