This weekend Thor: The Dark World hits theaters, and it could have been a mistake to release what seems to be a summer film in the fall months. But with tracking suggesting a near hundred million dollar opening, it might be smart not to question Marvel at this point.
Marvel’s cinematic empire is one of the defining aspects of modern cinema. When Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man started issuing in the wave of comic-book movie dominance, Marvel smartly decided to start making the films themselves. They kicked off with Iron Man in 2008, and began putting pieces in place to expand. From the outset, their empire could have fallen apart at any step along the way. Their plan was to build to The Avengers, but to do so they’d have to start selling their B players. They didn’t have X-Men, or Spider-Man or even the Fantastic Four, so they had to build that movie on characters like Hulk, who didn’t really work in his own movie, and weirdos like Thor and Captain America. Both of those films performed reasonably well, but both showed growing pains and the compromises needed to get to their big push.
And who would guess that The Avengers would become that moment. It’s now the number three highest grossing film of all time both domestically and worldwide, and that’s going to help both The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The first Thor did $181 domestic, this new one is going to do well over $200 Million, and could get to $300 Million domestic, which would put it in the range of the Iron Man movies. And I’ve seen it, and it’s much, much better than the first film, so that helps.
The question when a company achieves this sort of dominance is when will there be failure? Will a Marvel backlash kick in? They’re going riskier (the kind of have to) in their empire building, as they’ve got both Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man on the way. Perhaps the backlash will be for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which feels unformed and somewhat misguided. Still it’s possible that we’ll see a bum note movie or two before long. The cinematic world got bored with Judd Apatow after a while as well.
But there’s no denying that DC and Disney (with their Star Wars) have been taking notes, and are jealous. As well they should be.
So, this weekend:
- Thor: The Dark World - $94.7 Million
And who cares about anything else.
What are you going to watch this weekend?