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Box Office: 'Thor' thunders to the top again, hammering 'Bridesmaids' and 'Priest' [Updated]

May 15, 2011 |  9:19 am

Bridesmaids box office
Even a batch of "Bridesmaids" could not take down a Norse god at the box office this weekend, where through brute force "Thor" took the No. 1 spot for the second consecutive time.

After its thunderous debut last weekend, the 3-D "Thor" again proved to be most popular with moviegoers, collecting an additional $34.5 million, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures.

Thor-bridesmaids-box-office Still, "Bridesmaids," the Judd Apatow-produced comedy starring "Saturday Night Live" cast member Kristen Wiig, had a better-than-expected debut with $24.4 million. The weekend's other new film in wide release, the 3-D "Priest," had a disappointing opening in North America. The movie, which cost about $60 million to make, is the most expensive production to date from Sony Pictures' Screen Gems label -- but it only collected a weak $14.5 million in ticket sales.

Heading into the weekend, "Thor's" domestic tally already stood at more than $80 million -- now, that figure has jumped to $119.3 million. The film's ticket sales fell 48% on the its second weekend in theaters -- a somewhat modest drop for a big-budget action movie. That the movie continues to perform well at the box office is important, considering that the Walt Disney Pictures-owned Marvel Entertainment spent about $150 million to produce the film.

Because there have been few R-rated female-driven comedies at the box office, Universal Pictures was unsure of how well "Bridesmaids" would perform. The studio had estimated the film would gross only about $15 million this weekend despite overwhelmingly positive reviews. (The movie currently has a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

"Bridesmaids," about a comical group of women helping their friend prepare for her wedding, appealed mostly to females. The audience was made up of 67% women, and 63% of the crowd was over 30. Those who saw the film seemed to like it, giving it an average grade of B-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore. The movie was produced by Universal Pictures and Relativity Media for $32.5 million, meaning it is off to a decent start at the box office.

The film's opening is good news for star Wiig. Best known for her eclectic "SNL" characters, the actress had never before had a leading role in a film, although she'd put in memorable cameos in movies, including Apatow's "Knocked Up." "Bridesmaids" is also one of the better recent openings for the filmmaker. The last three films he's been involved with -- "Year One," "Funny People" and "Get Him to the Greek" -- all opened to less than $23 million. Still, the film’s debut falls short of some of the openings for other Apatow films. “Step Brothers” and “Superbad,” both of which he produced, and “Knocked Up,” which he also wrote and directed, all premiered to around $30 million.

Paul "Priest," which stars Paul Bettany as a clergyman who hunts vampires, failed to resonate with as many moviegoers. The movie did slightly better with males, who were 57% of the audience. Those who saw the film did not seem to like it, giving it an average grade of C-plus, which does not bode well for word-of-mouth in the weeks to come.

Screen Gems took a gamble on "Priest," as the distributor typically spends less than $40 million making its movies. "Priest" is the second big-budget movie from Screen Gems, as it was just slightly less expensive to produce than last fall's "Burlesque." That $55-million musical starring Cher and Christina Aguilera brought in only a modest $89.3 million worldwide.

But "Priest" could make up some ground overseas. The film opened in 40 foreign markets this weekend, including Mexico and France, and grossed $16.7 million. The movie opened last weekend in a few countries, so its current international total is now $25.6 million.

Meanwhile, "Fast Five" continues to speed along at the box office. After three weeks in theaters, it claimed the No. 3 spot of all films in release this weekend, raking in an additional $19.5 million. The movie has now made $168.8 million domestically, and far more abroad. The film featuring high-speed cars played in 61 foreign markets this weekend and grossed $58 million, so its international total is now $271.7 million. That means "Fast Five" has now collected more in worldwide ticket sales than any of the previous films in the "Fast" franchise. The fourth installment ended up with $363.2 million globally; "Fast Five's" worldwide tally is $440.5 million after just 25 days in release.

In limited release, Mel Gibson's "The Beaver" expanded from 22 to 105 theaters but the movie yet again failed to resonate with audiences. The film collected a dismal $158,000 this weekend for a per-theater average of $1,505; compare that to last weekend's per-theater average, which was already weak at just $4,745. The movie is supposed to go into wide release next weekend, but it remains to be seen if distributor Summit Entertainment will change the film's roll-out because of lackluster ticket sales.

Another film that did poorly in limited release was Pantelion's “Go for It," which opened in 218 theaters and made only $125,000 for a disastrous per-theater average of $573. The film, about an inner-city female dance group, is the third release from the company, a joint venture of Lions Gate Entertainment and Mexico's Televisa whose aim is to make films for Latino audiences.

[Updated at 11:13 a.m.: "Thor" passed the $200-million mark overseas, grossing an additional $27.5 million in 60 foreign markets to bring its international total to $225 million. The film did best in China, where it collected $4.1 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with foreign grosses where available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Thor" (Paramount/Marvel): $34.5 million in its second weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $119.3 million. $27.5 million in 60 foreign markets. International total: $225 million.

2. "Bridesmaids" (Universal/Relativity): Opened to $24.4 million.

3. "Fast Five" (Universal): $19.5 million in its third weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $168.8 million. $58 million in 61 foreign markets. International total: $271.7 million.

4. "Priest" (Sony Screen Gems): Opened to $14.5 million. $16.7 million in 46 foreign markets. International total: $25.6 million.

5. "Rio" (20th Century Fox): $8 million in its fifth weekend, down 6%. Domestic total: $125 million. $10.4 million in 67 foreign markets. International total: $306.3 million.

6. "Jumping the Broom" (Sony TriStar): $7.3 million in its second weekend, down 52%. Domestic total: $26 million.

7. "Something Borrowed" (Warner Bros./Alcon): $7 million in its second weekend, down 50%. Domestic total: $25.6 million.

8. "Water for Elephants" (20th Century Fox): $4.1 million in its fourth weekend, down 32%. Domestic total: $48.5 million. $9.1 million in 52 foreign markets. International total: $34 million.

9. "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" (Lionsgate): $2.2 million in its fourth weekend, down 47%. Domestic total: $50.2 million.

10. "Soul Surfer" (Sony/FilmDistrict): $1.8 million in its sixth weekend, down 22%. Domestic total: $39.2 million.]

RELATED:

'Thor's' Chris Hemsworth on magic, crocodiles and Hollywood

'Bridesmaids,' other movies that teach how to ruin a wedding

'Priest' star Paul Bettany: Don't expect 'vampires you want to bring home to your mum'

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photos from top: Maya Rudolph, left, Kristin Wiig and Ellie Kemper star in "Bridesmaids"; "Thor" roars;  Paul Bettany stars in "Priest." Credit: Universal Pictures; Sony Screen Gems

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