This Week In Movies by Pete Hammond “Thor”

By Pete Hammond Summer season in Hollywood continues with this week’s hoped-for Blockbuster of the week, Thor opening to a decent $66 million, hiked by inflated 3D ticket prices but still looking good , if not by the usual spectacular Marvel-ous results like the past collaboration between the comic book movie company and its distributor (until Disney takes over) Paramount Pictures. Of course just last year Iron Man 2 from Marvel and Par earned $128 million in a similar time span , more than double the Thor take but that was a sequel to a huge success. Thor is just the first of a hoped for franchise. The interesting thing studios are doing this summer is releasing some of these major tentpole type movies overseas first , gaining a head start on the domestic boxoffice and racking up impressive numbers for U.S. media outlets to report along with the first week results in America. Taking that into account Thor is looking MIGHTY good already with a whopping $242 million in just 11 days. Not bad. Of course the Thor success means that last week’s box office behemoth, Fast Five had to drop to second and the fall wasn’t pretty, a big 62% to $32.5 million estimate but a worldwide total of a smash $325 million so far. That one-two action punch of Thor and Fast Five is slowly giving Hollywood signs of major encouragement that the 2011 boxoffice slump may be ending and we could be seeing strong signs of a bountiful summer.

One big indication of that will be how the major sequels in May perform. Still to come is the fourth installment of Pirates Of The Caribbean , On Stranger Tides which had its World Premiere Saturday night at Disneyland as well as Kung Fu Panda 2. Both 3D flicks will be hitting the Cannes Film Festival which starts on May 11 running through May 22 and hope to generate major international press out of it, a big plus. Disney will first take Pirates to Moscow for a premiere there. The studio showed the film to a lot of press last week on three consecutive nights at the El Capitan in Hollywood and held a junket for the film. I was even asked at the last minute (almost literally) to fill in as a moderator(basically picking people at random who want to ask questions) for a Pirates press conference after the original person suddenly discovered he had pneumonia. Nice guy that I am I did the favor and jumped in for the confab featuring the film’s stars including Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Rob Marshall. At the very least I knew that by choosing the journalists who get to ask questions that I could call on myself to ask a couple of my own. Clever little me. I have to say my uninspired couple of questions got pretty perfunctory answers while the one that got the best response came from a guy who asked Johnny Depp what he thinks will happen in the next Pirates movie if there is one. Depp said he has an idea to shoot it on the actual Disneyland ride itself and just go around and around. Funny guy that Johnny. At any rate I still got no competitive advantage whatsoever from doing this as I ,like all of my press colleagues in attendance, are forbidden from tweeting, facebooking or reviewing the flick until the embargo lifts on May 16. In this internet, instant news day and age it always baffles me how studios really expect the media to hold to these dates. You can always be a good guy and then VOILA, some little guttersnipe on some site you’ve never heard of sends in a “review” and opens the floodgates.

One film I have seen that I CAN talk about this week is the much-discussed and delayed Mel Gibson picture, The Beaver directed by Jodie Foster. It opened FINALLY on about 20 screens and basically flatlined grabbing only $104,000 and a measly $4727 per screen average. It’s not exactly Lethal Weapon-style material so I don’t know if we can blame Mel’s woes on the paltry boxoffice. I mean a dark comedy/drama about a mentally ill guy who finds he can only communicate with family and colleagues by attaching a talking beaver puppet to his hand is not EXACTLY something audiences will probably rush out to see. Mel is really good in this thing though and Summit is to be congratulated for getting it out there and taking a shot with it. The results though probably mean there won’t be many other studios rushing beaver puppet pictures into production anytime soon.

Finally two romantic comedies opened wide this weekend and both performed as respectable counterprogramming to Thor. One that did especially well is Jumping The Broom, a wedding comedy aimed at African Americans which grossed $13.7 million on only 2035 screens and generated an “A” Cinemascore rating from audiences who obviously liked what they saw. It only cost about $8 million to make so it’s gonna be profitable. The other romcom this week was Something Borrowed, yet another wedding comedy (with Kate Hudson) but NOT aimed at African Americans. It cost about $40 million to make, played on 2900 screens but grossed a little less with $13.2 million. And then next week yet ANOTHER wedding comedy, Bridesmaids is opening. Ah, spring must be in the air even if Hollywood thinks it is summer!

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About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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