October will be a sluggish month at the box office. Many were hoping that Alcon Entertainment/Sony’s Blade Runner 2049 would take it to a higher ground: In advance ticket sales, it was outpacing previous record October openers Gravity and The Martian, and before its debut, some tracking services had the film near a $50 million three-day as reviews hit a high 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
But with the domestic box office still 4.7% behind last year with $8.3 billion, if we’re going to beat last year’s record $11.4B, it will have to start with Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, which will pass the baton to Warner Bros’/DC’s Justice League which will then then pass to Disney/Pixar’s Coco and then finally Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Thor Ragnarok, the third in the series, hit tracking this morning, and it’s looking at a $100M-$110M start per industry figures with enormous strength among the four quadrants: very strong with families, Hispanics and African Americans. Thor: Ragnarok in tracking has an enormous 85% in total awareness, 29% in unaided (those polled say it’s a movie they want to see without being prompted on the title — that number is huge), 61% definite interest, and 24% first choice (when you’re in the double digits at that level, that’s excellent). A $100M start would be huge for the threequel, beating its previous chapter, Thor: The Dark World‘s $85.7M November opening four years ago. Such projections this far out always come with a footnote because when a pic arrives this strong, it’s hard to determine how high it will go. Even if the domestic marketplace turns wonky, a $90M opening for Thor: Ragnarok wouldn’t be so bad.
The Thor franchise started off with Paramount distributing the movie under its deal with Marvel, opening the first installment to $65.7M (and a final $181M) in May 2011. When Disney took over Marvel, they pushed this franchise’s numbers up even more with $85.7M debut and $206.4M final stateside. Thor: Ragnarok is the third Marvel title to play in the November corridor following Thor: The Dark World and last year’s Doctor Strange ($85M, $232.6M). Together the first two Thor movies have made more than $1.09 billion at the global B.O.
Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn gave the film a rave review, saying on Facebook, “I don’t think any film of the modern era has captured the batshit crazy fun of 80’s classics like Flash Gordon and Buckaroo Banzai as well as Taika Waititi has here. I felt like I was fourteen watching a magical VHS tape that exploded into something grand. It’s the most colorful of all Marvel films — I mean, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is practically sepia-tone in comparison — and it’s also the funniest.”
Deadline saw Thor: Ragnarok on Tuesday night and it truly is a ton of fun in the Guardians of the Galaxy-kind of way, far from the moody tones of Thor: The Dark World. In the threequel, the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett) takes over Asgard and paves the way for the planet’s Ragnarok, aka its apocalypse. She has crushed Thor’s hammer to bits and the hero is stranded on the colorful planet Sakaar where he is forced to fight in gladiator battles, his first being against the Hulk. With Hulk’s help and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor looks to make his way back to Asgard.