In Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth film in the solo Marvel series, the title superhero struggles with his own sense of purpose and identity. In terms of audiences, however, that identity remains abundantly clear: Thor remains a box office force.
The latest Thor adventure — the second to be written and directed by Taika Waititi, whose Thor: Ragnarok turned the God of Thunder into a comic crowd-pleaser — lit up multiplexes with a thunderous haul of $143 million in North America. (That tops Ragnarok‘s 2017 $122.7M debut five years ago.) Another $159M overseas brought Love and Thunder‘s opening weekend global earnings to $302M. That helps to put a sizeable dent in the movie’s $250M budget and $100M-plus marketing campaign.
Although the domestic finish fell slightly behind estimates of $150M, Love and Thunder still came in as the year’s third-biggest debut, right behind Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness ($185M) and Jurassic World Dominion ($145M). The fact that Thor 4 had no multiverse tie-in like Strange 2 did would suggest a sign of strength for the reunion of Thor and Jane (Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman) rather than a weakness.
The weekend overall was another welcome sign for theater owners as box office performance inches ever-closer to pre-pandemic levels. At 2022’s mid-mark, the industry’s $2.27 billion gross is only 12% behind 2019’s, the last pre-pandemic year, and a 217% increase over last year at this time when F9: The Fast Saga and Black Widow were just starting to break the ice.
The big question will be if Hollywood can maintain that pace. Thor: Love and Thunder is the last major franchise tentpole of the summer. Now, other original titles such as Jordan Peele‘s Nope and Brad Pitt‘s Bullet Train will need to perform at or beyond expectations.
Given the dearth of major titles from now until fall, the summer’s biggest blockbusters could continue to hold well. Case in point: Top Gun: Maverick, the year’s top earner (approaching $600M domestic and $1.2 billion globally), took in another $15.5M over the weekend to finish third. Its week-to-week decline after nearly two months is still a slim 40% (compared to the 55-to-70% that is more common).
Last week’s champ Minions: The Rise of Gru came in second, despite a 57% drop from its opening weekend. The Despicable prequel earned another $45.5M to bring its domestic total in 10 days to $210M and $400M globally. That makes it the most successful animated movie since the pandemic began; it will also soon top the animation / live-action hybrid Sonic the Hedgehog 2 globally (total gross $190.8M domestic and $401M worldwide).
It’s also a nice rebound for family entertainment following the surprising failure of Pixar’s Lightyear. The Toy Story spinoff with a $200M budget (before marketing costs) has only mustered $112M domestically and $204.5M worldwide.
Elvis, a strong draw for adult audiences, continued with a solid $11M to land at fourth place, marking only a 40% drop from the previous weekend. The music biopic that’s turning Austin Butler into a heartthrob star now stands at $91.1M domestic.
Finally, Jurassic World Dominion rounded out the Top 5 with $8.4M in its fifth weekend. The dino-sequel (and, allegedly, series finale) has reached $350.3M domestic and $876.4M worldwide. It still has a ways to go to catch 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which topped out at $417M in North America and $1.3 billion worldwide.