Thor: The Dark World is off and spinning—and headed for a big box-office weekend.
The Chris Hemsworth-led sequel, featuring Natalie Portman, grossed an estimated $7.1 million in Thursday-night previews and Friday-midnight screenings, its studio reported. Overseas, where it opened last week, it upped its international haul to $158.2 million.
Domestically, the movie is outpacing its franchise-starter, 2011's Thor, which got off to a $3.2 million midnight start, and its Marvel bullpen partner, Captain America: The First Avenger, also from 2011, which kicked off with $4 million in the preview frame.
The Avengers, which combined the drawing powers of Thor, Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, still leads all Marvel heroes at midnight with an $18.7 million gross.
Moving into the weekend, the hammer-swinging Norse god is projected to break into Iron Man territory, with forecasters calling for a three-day, Thor: The Dark World gross of $90 million-plus. (The original Iron Man movie, released in 2008, debuted with $98.6 million; the first Thor scored a $65.7 million opening.)
With Thor moving up, Ender's Game is expected to move down.
Last weekend's No. 1 film, which got off to a so-so $32.5 million start, could settle for second or third with less than $15 million—something that wouldn't be a promising development for a movie that reportedly cost $110 million.
The rest of Hollywood is mainly staying out of the way of the $170 million Thor: The Dark World. Aside from added screens for Oscar contender 12 Years a Slave and the Rachel McAdams time-traveling romance, About Time, there are no new movies in wide release this weekend.
Thor is a guy who needs his room.