Coming out on top. "Thor" won at the box office this weekend, earning an estimated $66 million in North America, according to Variety. The numbers were nowhere near last year's Marvel entry "Iron Man 2," however, the film's reviews and buzz were relatively lackluster. Still, "Thor" managed to best last week's blockbuster "Fast Five," which dropped 62% to come in second. "Thor" can now boast that it is the third most successful Marvel-franchise launch after the behemoths "Spider-Man" and "Iron Man," sort of the way Snapple would boast it was the third most successful beverage after Pepsi and Coke. Not a small accomplishment.
Rounding out the middle. This weekend we were exposed to not merely one but two wedding films, and both drew solid audiences. Sony's "Jumping the Broom," which at least stands apart from the rest by featuring African-American actors, outperformed expectations by earning $13.7 million. Warner Bros.' painfully formulaic "Something Borrowed" met expectations by earning $13.2 million despite bleak reviews, because we can never get enough Kate Hudson love triangles.
Dragging down the bottom. The same cannot be said for Mel Gibson, who starred in "The Beaver," Jodie Foster's third directorial effort, playing a clinically depressed toy company CEO who finds solace through a beaver hand puppet. Naturally. The film opened this weekend to a dismal $104,000 from 22 theaters, with a per screen average of only $4,745, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
To put into context just how weak that performance is requires comparing it to another unprecedented flop, "Atlas Shrugged" -- which actually did better than "The Beaver," averaging $5,608 from a significantly wider 299 theaters, according to Indiewire. Compare it also to its expectations: Summit was hoping for a per-screen average for "The Beaver" in the $15,000 to $18,000 range. After all, the film achieved above average reviews, scoring a respectable 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. Gibson's performance in particular was praised: Peter Travers wrote in his review for Rolling Stone that "If you can get past your feelings for the troubled Gibson, you get to watch a high-wire performance of the highest caliber."
But it seems people couldn't get past their feelings for the "troubled" Gibson. “I think people will try to read into these numbers and say it is a repudiation of Mel," Summit executive Richie Fay told THR, "but I don’t think that’s true. The film is a tough sell.” With Mel Gibson and a beaver hand puppet? We see where he's coming from.
Another unmitigated disaster was "Passion Play," a film starring Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray, and Megan Fox, which grossed just $2,056 from its two screen debut via Image Entertainment, a $1,028 average. Here at least the expectations were nonexistent: despite the acting chops of both Murray and Rourke, the film had some of the worst reviews of the year, scoring an outstandingly bad 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. "Every now and then a movie's awfulness rises to the level of mystery. How did it get produced? Did anyone try to save the filmmaker from himself?" reviewed Joe Morgenstern for The Wall Street Journal. The film's reviews are probably more entertaining to read than the movie itself, not that anyone would know, because no one is seeing it. Somehow, we imagine Bill Murray is deeply relieved by this.