Weekend Box Office (May 13 - 15, 2011)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The super hero adventure Thor held firmly to the number one spot in its second weekend with a solid hold while the raunchy comedy Bridesmaids scored an impressive debut in second place. April's Brazil-set blockbusters Fast Five and Rio both remained in the top five thanks to good legs while the new 3D thriller Priest debuted in fourth with moderate results. Overall ticket sales were nearly even with last year's red hot frame.

Dropping only 47% in its sophomore frame, Paramount's comic hit Thor grossed $34.7M according to final studio figures to lead the North American box office with what was an unusually low drop for a super hero flick. The critically-praised actioner has amassed $119.5M in its first ten days and now looks on course to possibly reach the $200M mark. Thor's drop was a bit better than the 48% decline that the well-liked Iron Man enjoyed in May 2008 so the road ahead could also be bright if good word-of-mouth continues to spread. In fact among Marvel's stable of summer super hero films that launched franchises, only 2002's Spider-Man had a smaller second weekend drop with 38%.

Competition will be tough though as this Friday Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides launches in over 4,000 theaters followed six days later by high-profile sequels to The Hangover and Kung Fu Panda. Thor is playing well to kids with Saturday surging by an impressive 66% from Friday. Overseas, Thor commanded $27.5M this weekend from 60 territories, down 40%, putting the international take at $225M with the global tally climbing to $344.5M.

Kristin Wiig anchored the first of what could be many hit comedies as her raunchy wedding-themed film Bridesmaids opened better than expected with $26.2M taking the runnerup spot. The latest hit from resurgent Universal averaged a strong $8,995 from 2,918 locations and showed Hollywood that a quality female-dominated R-rated comedy could score with paying moviegoers. With strong reviews and a marketplace dominated by testosterone action movies, Bridesmaids was the right film at the right time and connected with an underserved audience. And with a healthy 36% Friday-to-Saturday jump, strong legs could kick in soon despite a moderate B+ CinemaScore grade.

The Judd Apatow production was not high on starpower but Wiig (who co-wrote and co-produced) and co-star Maya Rudolph have built up a sizable fan base from their years on Saturday Night Live. The unique wedding-themed premise and great title helped it to generate excitement with its target audience of adult women. Studio research showed that females made up 67% of the crowd while those over 30 were 63%. Bridesmaids now hopes that good buzz will help it reach a broader audience in the weeks ahead, though competition will be tough with Johnny Depp set to attack multiplexes next weekend stealing away audiences of all shapes and sizes. Still, with a cost of only $33M after production credits, Bridesmaids looks to be a profitable hit for Universal and could help greenlight more female-driven comedies and fill up Wiig's work schedule for years to come.

Fast Five finished in third place for the session and became the year's biggest global grosser in the process. The Universal action sequel dropped by only 37% in its third lap to $20.4M boosting the 17-day domestic cume to $169.7M. Breaking $200M now seems very likely. Overseas, Fast Five hauled in a hefty $58M this weekend - off only 33% - raising the international total to $271.7M and the global score to a stellar $441M. Five is now the top-grossing installment of the franchise domestically, internationally and worldwide. Look for the Rio-set hit to race past the $500M mark next weekend.

The 3D supernatural thriller Priest debuted in fourth place with a decent $15M. Sony's stylish PG-13 vampire pic averaged $5,221 from 2,864 locations. Sales were flat from Friday to Saturday which was not bad since these types of thrillers often drop on the second day, plus the marketing campaign was specifically pushing the Friday the 13th opening day. Males made up 57% of the audience with those over 25 also coming in at 57%, according to studio research. Priest opened in the U.K. a week earlier and debuted in several other international markets for a $16.7M international take this weekend lifting the overseas total to $25.6M and the worldwide figure to $40.6M.

Posting the best hold by far of any film in the top ten was the 3D animated hit Rio which faced zero competition from new films and dipped a scant 3% to $8.3M in its fifth frame. Fox has collected a solid $125.2M thus far from North America.

Sophomore wedding comedies both lost about half of their audiences this weekend. Sony's Jumping the Broom fell 54% to $7.1M for a ten-day total of $25.8M while the Warner Bros. release Something Borrowed grossed $6.9M, down 51%, for a similar $25.5M sum in ten days. Each should finish near the $40M mark even though Broom cost less to both produce and market.

Water for Elephants enjoyed another good hold despite the arrival of a rival pic aimed at adult women grossing $4.2M, down just 31%, for a $48.6M total for Fox. Madea's Big Happy Family fell 47% to $2.2M giving Lionsgate $50.2M to date. Sony's Soul Surfer rounded out the top ten dipping only 21% to $1.8M putting the PG-rated drama at $39.2M.

The top ten films grossed $126.8M which was down just 2% from last year when Iron Man 2 stayed in the top spot with $52M; and off 1% from 2009 when Angels & Demons debuted at number one with $46.2M.

Compared to projections, Bridesmaids powered ahead of my $19M forecast while Priest came very close to my $16M prediction.

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Watch the NEW trailer for Cars 2. Check the chart for the Top May Openings.

For a review of Thor visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides invades the box office as the sole wide release.

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# Title May 13 - 15 May 6 - 8 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Thor $ 34,703,035 $ 65,723,338 -47.2 3,963 2 $ 8,757 $ 119,455,352 Paramount
2 Bridesmaids 26,247,410 2,918 1 8,995 26,247,410 Universal
3 Fast Five 20,444,270 32,445,320 -37.0 3,793 3 5,390 169,690,470 Universal
4 Priest 14,953,664 2,864 1 5,221 14,953,664 Sony
5 Rio 8,275,058 8,504,001 -2.7 2,929 5 2,825 125,243,198 Fox
6 Jumping the Broom 7,066,190 15,215,487 -53.6 2,035 2 3,472 25,760,004 Sony
7 Something Borrowed 6,872,221 13,945,368 -50.7 2,904 2 2,366 25,518,733 Warner Bros.
8 Water for Elephants 4,203,095 6,069,603 -30.8 2,425 4 1,733 48,578,875 Fox
9 Madea's Big Happy Family 2,214,033 4,178,886 -47.0 1,449 4 1,528 50,232,182 Lionsgate
10 Soul Surfer 1,826,788 2,307,161 -20.8 1,468 6 1,244 39,232,956 Sony
11 Hoodwinked Too! 1,151,268 2,042,603 -43.6 1,276 3 902 8,562,861 Weinstein Co.
12 Insidious 958,323 1,338,860 -28.4 762 7 1,258 51,674,312 FilmDistrict
13 Prom 939,043 2,214,585 -57.6 1,201 3 782 8,971,930 Disney
14 Source Code 837,279 1,244,774 -32.7 626 7 1,338 52,233,801 Summit
15 Everything Must Go 791,677 218 1 3,632 791,677 Roadside Attr.
16 African Cats 667,187 1,066,163 -37.4 631 4 1,057 14,039,566 Disney
17 The Conspirator 464,168 616,656 -24.7 370 5 1,255 10,492,274 Roadside Attr.
18 Hanna 445,000 836,209 -46.8 425 6 1,047 38,467,000 Focus
19 Win Win 405,290 528,842 -23.4 248 8 1,634 8,934,332 Fox Searchlight
20 Hop 401,625 496,075 -19.0 459 7 875 106,854,715 Universal
Top 5 $ 104,623,437 $ 135,833,514 -23.0
Top 10 126,805,764 152,646,352 -16.9
Top 20 133,866,624 160,667,226 -16.7
Top 20 vs. 2010 133,866,624 135,341,305 -1.1

Last Updated: May 16, 2011 at 4:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.