Thor: Love And Thunder Falls Hard At The Box Office, Where The Crawdads Sing Beats Expectations

While there are some caveats, it was an all around pretty damn good weekend at the box office. Marvel and Disney get to say they spent another week on top with "Thor: Love and Thunder" (even if it did suffer a huge drop), "Where the Crawdads Sing" overperformed, several other hits managed to hold like gangbusters, with only perhaps "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank" serving as an outright disappointment. But even that comes with an asterisk or two attached to it.

Let's have a closer look at those numbers, shall we?

Thor: Love and Thunder repeats at #1 with a near-record drop for the MCU

According to Box Office Mojo, "Thor: Love and Thunder" brought in $46 million in its second frame, more than good enough to take the top spot. Coming in a relatively distant second was "Minions: The Rise of Gru" with $26 million (now at $532 million worldwide). The big difference here is the drop though. "Thor" plunged 68.1% after opening to $144 million last weekend. "Multiverse of Madness" similarly dropped 67% in its second weekend earlier this year, while "Spider-Man: No Way Home" plunged 67.5%, with "Black Widow" dipping 68% last year. So yeah, "Love and Thunder" is definitely one of the biggest drop offs the MCU has ever seen in a second weekend, particularly for a film that opened to well over $100 million.

Be that as it may, this is something we're getting used to seeing with the MCU. It's still relatively bulletproof as evidenced by the fact that director Taikia Waititi's "Love and Thunder" is just a couple of million away from topping $500 million globally as of today. It may be able to catch up to "Thor: Ragnarok" ($854 million) before all is said and done, which would be impressive given how well-liked that movie was. The real problem here is the burden of sky high expectations that Disney and the Marvel brand specifically have to contend with. When "Black Panther" becomes one of the highest-grossing films of all time and "Captain Marvel" manages to make well over $1 billion worldwide (before the pandemic, granted), everything that follows must shoulder that.

Ultimately, even with a $200 million budget, "Love and Thunder" stands to be yet another hit for Marvel. Now, will relatively lukewarm reviews and big second weekend drops catch up to Marvel Studios over time? Are audiences going to get fatigued, especially with the increasing number of shows on Disney+? Maybe. But for now, the MCU is still the most reliable brand in the business.

Where the Crawdads Sing swims, Paws of Fury sinks

Sony Pictures may have an unexpected hit on its hands with "Where the Crawdads Sing," an adaptation of the book of the same name. The film came in at number three this weekend with $17 million, when estimates had it debuting around $10 million. That is not at all a bad number for a movie with a reported $24 million budget. Sure, the reviews haven't been great but general audiences seem to be on board despite what critics have to say here. Whether or not this one will play well overseas remains to be seen but with most of the huge releases out of the way for the summer, save for Jordan Peele's "NOPE" this weekend, this one may be able to leg out to become a sneaky little moneymaker.

Meanwhile, the weekend's other big new release was the animated "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank." The family-friendly flick failed to find a big crowd, coming in at number six with $6.2 million. Really, it's Paramount's first disappointment of the year, which is truly remarkable. To that end, "Top Gun: Maverick" dropped a mere 22.6% in its eighth week adding another $12 million and topped $1.2 billion worldwide. As for "Paws of Fury," this movie has shifted studios and has been in the works for years. It had a very troubled road to release and had to compete with "Minions: The Rise of Gru." Honestly, it may end up doing okay on VOD and probably won't be a gigantic disaster. You can't win 'em all.

The weekend's only other wide release was "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" from Focus Features, which came in at number nine with $1.9 million. Given that it played in less than 1,000 theaters and had very little buzz, not much more could have been expected. Though, for what it's worth, Focus could really use a hit after what happened to "The Northman" earlier this year.

And the rest...

Quite honestly, it was a pretty encouraging weekend all around when it comes to looking at the broader box office recovery. Even the bottom five titles in the top 10 made around $20 million combined, which is much better than we've been seeing as of late. Pixar's "Lightyear" was trailing up the rear at number 10 with a mere $1.3 million. At $213 million worldwide against a $200 million budget, this is a monster flop for Disney — no two ways about it.

But elsewhere, it's all good news with just about everything holding well. "Elvis" earned another $7.6 million and has sailed past the $100 million domestic mark with $106.2 million to date. It stands at $170.4 million worldwide, making this a nice little hit for Warner Bros. It should be able to hit $200 million before it's all done.

Meanwhile, Universal had a nice weekend with both "The Black Phone" and "Jurassic World Dominion" in the seven and eight spots, respectively, despite the fact that they both debuted on VOD this weekend. Director Scott Derrickson's "The Black Phone" added $5.3 million for a $114 million global total against an $18 million budget. It's a home run and great news for non-franchise films in general. "Dominion," on the other hand, added $4.9 million to put it at $902 million worldwide. Honestly, it's starting to look like $1 billion is out of reach but this is still a big hit for the studio, no question.

Lastly, A24 expanded the critical darling "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" to 153 theaters and it earned $575,000 for a very solid $3,700 per-screen average. If this keeps up, the film could end up becoming a quiet hit as the expansion continues. Fingers crossed because, again, that would be a big win for original cinema.