The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the rare franchise in which almost every single sequel has outgrossed its predecessor. Save for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was competing against a historic amount of money, every continuation in each respective franchise has earned more than the entry that came before it. It looks as if that trend will continue with Thor: Ragnarok, which is tracking for a $90 million to $100 million opening weekend, per TheWrap.
The previous Thor film, The Dark World, and 2016’s Doctor Strange both opened to $85 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The Dark World ended its worldwide run with $644.5 million while Doctor Strange notched $677 million. If Ragnarok can top the nine-figure mark, it will be the first time ever that Marvel opened three $100 million films in one year (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming). But let’s not get too optimistic just yet.
Speaking of the Guardians franchise, the first film in that series may be a good benchmark of success for Ragnarok. The 2014 film opened to $94 million before going on to earn $773 million worldwide. Let’s assume that Ragnarok takes in the same total when it opens, but plays better than The Dark World‘s 2.4x domestic multiplier thanks to the glowing early buzz. If the three-quel can manage a 2.8x multiplier (Guardians, Homecoming and Doctor Stranger all managed at least a 2.7), then we’re looking at a domestic take of over/under $263 million. Let’s say Ragnarok also earns 68 percent of its gross overseas, like The Dark World did, and you’ve got an additional over/under $559 million (maybe a tad high, but we’re just guestimating here). That brings you to a worldwide total of $822 million.
But one big factor standing in Ragnarok‘s way is Justice League, which opens two weeks after the Thor adventure. Justice League may open around $150 million, which would eat into Ragnarok‘s market share and hurt its legs. Assuming Justice League at least matches the domestic take of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($330.3 million)—and it should beat it what with the whole superhero team up thing—we’re probably looking at a worldwide take around $900 million. A lot of that will be dependent on word of mouth and, admittedly, we haven’t been impressed with any of the film’s footage thus far.
Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson notes Ragnarok‘s earlier overseas release, November’s side-by-side blockbuster track record and the profits of other recent rival features as reasons why the two films won’t cannibalize each other too badly at the box office. It’s worth noting, though, that Justice League is generating some positive early buzz as well. While both will make a ton of money, it will be hard for Ragnarok to top Justice League overall.
One big factor working in Ragnarok‘s favor is the presence of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk, who has become a fan-favorite character and is a clear added value element. Young fans will bring their parents to this movie for his role alone.
The box office has been increasingly streaky over the last few months. July and August saw a precipitous drop while September saw its best month in industry history thanks to It. Now, with the disappointment of Blade Runner 2049, we’re looking at a quiet October before November goes supernova. What a ride.
Thor: Ragnarok will arrive in theaters on November 3 and Justice League drops on November 17.