Well color me unsurprised, but Disney (NYSE: DIS ) Marvel's Thor: The Dark World has already earned nearly triple the amount taken in this weekend by Lionsgate's (NYSE: LGF ) fellow box office newcomer Ender's Game.
Specifically, the Disney's comic book-inspired sequel commanded an incredible $109.4 million with its overseas debut. By comparison, Ender's Game brought in a respectable $37.1 million in global ticket receipts, which included around $28 million here in the U.S.
To its credit, that's on the higher end of this weekend's early estimates for the controversial sci-fi flick, which called for a domestic opening between $25 million and $30 million.
The thing is, Thor's numbers don't include any money from audiences in North America, where it's set to launch on Nov. 8. And remember, of the more than $449 million hauled in over 16 weeks by the first Thor film in 2011, domestic movie-goers were responsible for roughly $181 million, or a little over 40%.
To be fair, however, Disney's broad reach has already allowed Thor: The Dark World to launch in 36 countries, a total Ender's Game's outsourced international distributors won't be able to approach until later this month. As a result, Ender's Game could certainly gain ground over the next several weeks in its efforts to recoup its huge $110 million production budget, of which the folks at Lionsgate intelligently only financed around 20% to reduce risk.
But let's also not forget Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa from Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIAB ) Paramount, which fell only 36% to $20.5 million in its second week in the U.S., bringing Bad Grandpa's worldwide sales to an impressive $79.6 million, or more than quintuple its tiny $15 million production budget. For some perspective, that must be a pleasant surprise to Viacom considering both of the film's quasi-predecessors, which include 2002's Jackass: The Movie and 2006's Jackass: Number Two, plummeted during their own second weeks by 44.1% and 49.6%, respectively.
Settling for third place at the U.S. weekend box office was CBS Films' Last Vegas, which turned in a solid $16.5 million. Finally, nestling to fourth with a stronger-than-expected turnout was Relativity Media's animated Thanksgiving comedy, Free Birds, which earned $16.2 million in its U.S.-only launch.
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Apart from Thor's thunderous international debut, however, it was a relatively quiet weekend at the box office.
But don't expect things to stay that way for long. Though Thor should be able to maintain its unrivaled spot at the top for the next two weeks, remember Lionsgate is bringing another big-budget, book-inspired sequel to theaters in the form of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Nov. 22.
For those of you keeping track, while the first Hunger Games in 2012 didn't resonate quite as well as 2011's Thor with international audiences (which made up just 41% of its total), it did manage an awesome $152.5 million domestic opening weekend en route to a staggering $691.2 million worldwide total.
In any case, that should still give Thor: The Dark World ample time to run up the score, leaving plenty of room for both movies to prove their worth over the long run.
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