'Thor' beats up competition at theaters

Superheroes continue to defeat their foes at the box office.

Disney's "Thor: The Dark World," earning $86.1 million, dominated the weekend box office as it opened domestically at No. 1, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, the Marvel superhero sequel earned $109.4 million when it opened internationally last weekend and $94 million internationally this weekend.

"It's an extraordinary thing," said Dave Hollis, executive vice president of distribution at Walt Disney Studios. "These guys at Marvel have been some of the most consistent when it comes to making movies and creating big events that drive a ton of people to the movie theater. They overdelivered on expectations."

However, some observers were expecting the weekend total to reach over $100 million.

In limited theaters Thursday evening, "Thor: The Dark World" brought in $7.1 million overnight.

Surpassing the ticket sales of "Thor," which scored $65.7 million when it opened in May of 2011, "Thor: The Dark World" marks a record for a Disney November opening, topping the $70.5 million "The Incredibles" earned in 2004.

But, come Nov. 22, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is predicted to take the No. 1 spot.

"We have a great little stretch of time prior to `Hunger Games,' " Hollis said. "Yes, `Hunger Games' will do a whole bunch of business, but that's not to say we don't expect to still be a relevant option for consumers that weekend and onto the Thanksgiving weekend that follows."

Paramount hidden-camera comedy "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" held the second-place slot at the box office for the second weekend in a row, earning $11.3 million during its third weekend, with a domestic total reaching more than $78 million.

"Audiences can't get enough of these films," said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. "They are like that guilty pleasure. It's completely unique compared to everything else out there."

Relativity Media's 3-D animated kiddie flick "Free Birds," soared into third place with $11.2 million in its second weekend.

CBS Films' "Last Vegas," featuring an all-star cast including Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, took fourth place in its second weekend.

Last weekend's box office champ, the sci-fi adaptation "Ender's Game," starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield and Viola Davis, dropped to fifth place in its second weekend.

"Once `Thor' opened, it presented a pretty healthy competitor to all of the movies in the marketplace," Dergarabedian said. "We're starting this process of the holiday movie season, which dollar for dollar, is just as important as the summer movie season. In a seven- to eight-week period, we are talking about close to 20 percent of the total-year box office."

Expanding to 1,144 theaters in its fourth week, possible Oscar contender "12 Years a Slave" brought in an impressive $6.6 million over the weekend at No. 7.

In its first weekend "The Book Thief," starring Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse, had a firm opening with $27,000. It debuted in limited release in just four locations.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Thor: The Dark World," $86.1 million ($94 million international).

2. "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," $11.3 million ($3.4 million international).

3. "Free Birds," $11.2 million ($1 million international).

4. "Last Vegas," $11.1 million.

5. "Ender's Game," $10.2 million ($4 million international).

6. "Gravity," $8.4 million ($26.3 million international).

7. "12 Years a Slave," $6.6 million.

8. "Captain Phillips," $5.8 million ($7.7 million international).

9. "About Time," $5.1 million ($3.1 million international).

10. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," $2.8 million ($7.7 million international).

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Estimated weekend ticket sales Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:

1. "Thor: The Dark World," 94 million.

2. "Gravity," $26.3 million.

3. "Escape Plan," $15.5 million.

4. "Sole a Catinelle," $10.7 million.

5. "Fack Ju Gohte," $9.5 million.

6. "Captain Phillips," $7.7 million.

(tie) "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," $7.7 million.

8. "Turbo," $5 million.

9. "Ender's Game," $4 million.

10. "Planes," $3.9 million.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jessica Herndon on Twitter at: HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/SOMEKIND

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