Thor: Ragnarok’s massive $121 million opening weekend is great news for Marvel Studios. This is the third of three 2017 films to earn over $100 million and marks the seventh best overall opening for a Marvel Studios film. I’ll break down the Marvel side in a bit, but Ragnarok’s Mjolnir smashing success should be an encouraging sign for Warner Bros. as it prepares to release Justice League on Nov. 17.
The Thor films have largely been considered many tiers below the Captain America and Iron Man series. Expectations for Thor seemed optimistic, but the drastic change in tone to emphasize humor and fun provided a winning formula for Marvel Studios.
It’s clear from the last few trailers that Warner Bros. got the message that audiences just wanna have fun. There’s a lot of outrageous action segments, but the trailer also place a significant amount of time on the banter between the characters.
From Wonder Woman not having a very eventful weekend to Alfred cracking about Penguin and even Batman joking about Aquaman talking to fish, the tone shift is evident. The real question is can Joss Whedon bring enough fun to the film to get audiences raving about Justice League as much as Ragnarok?
EW reports Justice League is on track for a massive $110 million plus opening weekend. Unlike Ragnarok, which followed two at best lukewarmly received Thor films, Justice League has the benefit of following up the widely acclaimed Wonder Woman. The Gal Gadot-led film is No. 20 on the all-time top grossing domestic list with $413 million.
Warner Bros. has smartly made Wonder Woman a focal point of the Justice League advertising along with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. For Warner Bros. the trick will be maintaining critic support. Wonder Woman’s 92 percent freshness on rottentomatoes.com was impressive, but the rest of the DC Extended Universe hasn’t fared so well. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was savaged with 27 percent. Man of Steel has been the only other DCEU film to have some critical acclaim with 55 percent freshness. If Justice League even manages to get 80 percent critic support, it would be a big win.
Audience word of mouth is the other key. Twitter was buzzing last weekend with scores of tweets endorsing Ragnarok. Batman v Superman had a record breaking March debut weekend with $166 million, but poor word of mouth sunk the film to earn only $330 million through its entire run.
The encouraging news for Warner Bros. is its Extended Universe can also make a positive turnaround. Wonder Woman’s World War I setting essentially put it in a bubble. Justice League is the direct sequel to the storyline established in Batman v Superman. But Ragnarok shows winning over audiences with a quality product is possible.
In just three days, Ragnarok is just $60 million shy of surpassing the 2011 original film’s entire domestic gross. Toppling Thor: The Dark World’s $206.3 million haul shouldn’t be too overwhelming a challenge either. With only Murder on the Orient Express as any box office competition, Ragnarok should have another massive weekend. Warner Bros. might have misjudged Ragnarok’s chances as it’s still going to have a high amount of buzz headed to its third weekend when it goes head to head with Justice League.
Who will come out on top? Thor and Hulk or Batman and Wonder Woman? If Justice League even remotely approaches the quality of Ragnarok, audiences will be the real winners.