Thor: The Dark World stayed at No. 1 in its second weekend at the North American box office, but Malcolm D. Lee's African-American comedy The Best Man Holiday came much closer than anyone expected to the hammer-wielding superhero in grossing $30.6 million to place No. 2.
In another sensational showing for Disney and Marvel Studios, Thor 2 -- returning Chris Hemsworth in the title role -- fell 55 percent domestically to $38.4 million for a total of $150 million. Overseas, the 3D tentpole took in $52.5 million for a foreign total of $332.8 million and global haul of $479.8 million -- already surpassing the lifetime grosses of Captain America: The First Avenger ($371 million) and the first Thor ($449 million).
Universal's Best Man Holiday, opening nearly 15 years after the first film, opened notably higher than expected after receiving an A+ CinemaScore in every category. The film, expected to debut in the $20 million range, nabbed the fifth-largest opening ever for an R-rated romantic-comedy and was fueled by females (75 percent). Black movieogers made up 87 percent of the audience.
Best Man Holiday sees Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa reprising their roles. The first film, opening to $9 million in 1999, is credited with helping to usher in the era of aspirational African-American comedies.
Black films have been making strong gains at the North American box office, with Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels' The Butler and 12 Years a Slave all overperforming. Those movies -- all dramas -- are drawing a mixed audience, while Best Man Holiday is expected to play primarily to African-Americans, similar to Tyler Perry's pics.
Universal spent a modest $17 million to make the sequel, which Lee produced with Sean Daniel.
This weekend was supposed to have seen the debut of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, but Paramount pushed the film to Christmas Day in order for Scorsese to trim the running time.
Next weekend, the 2013 holiday season gets underway in earnest with the release of Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The sequel is poised to turn into an instant blockbuster, with bullish box-office observers saying it could open to a mammoth $170 million domestically (the first film debuted to $152.5 million in March 2012).
Catching Fire is rolling out early in Brazil, where it opened over the weekend. It will open in most international markets next weekend, timed to its North American launch.