Marvel’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and ‘Bad Moms Christmas’ expected to jolt November box office


The latest Marvel Studios superhero movie “Thor: Ragnarok” should awaken the sleepy domestic box office with a clap of thunder this weekend.

Disney’s big-budget action fantasy film, starring Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-wielding Asgardian deity, is expected to gross as much as $115 million in the United States and Canada this weekend, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys.

The reported budget for the movie was $180 million, not counting hefty marketing costs.

A huge debut would be a relief to movie theaters that have suffered a handful of flops in recent weeks, including Warner Bros.’ disaster movie “Geostorm” and the George Clooney-directed comedy “Suburbicon.” October ticket sales were down 13% compared to last year, according to the measurement firm ComScore.

This year, comic book movies, kids films (“Despicable Me 3”) and horror flicks (“It,” “Jigsaw”) have been the rare reliable moneymakers for the studios.

Hulking box office?

If it meets expectations, “Thor: Ragnarok” will be the biggest debut yet for a “Thor” movie. The 2013 entry “Thor: The Dark World” opened to $85 million, despite relatively tepid reviews from critics. “The Dark World” eventually grossed $645 million in worldwide receipts. The original “Thor,” released by Paramount for Marvel in 2011, launched with $65 million.

The newest entry, directed by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, has a 96% “fresh” rating from review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. New to the Hollywood blockbuster game, Waititi is known for quirky indie films such as “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.”

Generally positive reviews should draw moviegoers to “Thor: Ragnarok.” So should the inclusion of fellow Marvel hero the Hulk, whom an imprisoned Thor must fight in a gladiator-like contest before he can save his civilization.

‘Bad Moms’ may ignite good sales

As superhero fans flock to the cosmic battles of “Thor,” STX Entertainment will try to attract female moviegoers with the R-rated comedy sequel “A Bad Moms Christmas,” opening Wednesday.

The follow-up to the 2016 sleeper hit about three mothers who buck the unreasonable expectations of society and their families, is expected to collect about $25 million through Sunday in the United States and Canada.

The first “Bad Moms,” starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell, opened with $24 million on its way to a $113-million total in North America. The holiday-themed sequel, which cost $28 million to make, introduces Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon as the main characters’ own mothers.

Burbank-based STX is trying to turn the early success of “Bad Moms” into a full-blown franchise, with a “Bad Dads” spinoff already in the works.

Other November movies should give a boost to a domestic box office that remains 5% lower than last year, according to ComScore.

Warner Bros.’ next DC Comics movie, “Justice League,” hits theaters Nov. 17, followed by the Pixar animated film “Coco” the next week.

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Twitter: @rfaughnder

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