First Thor: Ragnarok got hugely positive reviews—including mine— making it one of the highest-rated superhero movies ever. And then it opened to huge box office, raking in an estimated $121 million over the weekend (and don’t be surprised if the actuals are a little higher). Going into the weekend the projection was $105-110 million, which would have been a good show for the franchise, given that the last Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World, also opened in November and earned $85 million on its opening weekend.
But throughout the weekend Ragnarok exceeded every expectation, fueled by word of mouth, with an A Cinemascore under its belt. (The theater I went to was doing ComScore grading and I heard someone ask if there was a rating “higher than 5”. There isn’t—Ragnarok scored a 5/5.) And it’s not just here that Ragnarok put up big numbers. It also smashed in China, pulling over $55 million, their biggest November release to date. In two weeks, Ragnarok has raked in $427 million. I’m assuming this makes Taika Waititi the most successful indigenous director yet.
So what does this mean for the future of Thor? Chris Hemsworth’s contract is ending with Avengers 4, but now that he’s finally got the right tone for the character and franchise working for him, he could be persuaded to stick around. My impression has long been that Hemsworth likes being in the Marvel fold, he just didn’t like being Nobody’s Favorite: Thor. But now he’s going to be everyone’s favorite Avenger (until Black Panther, when he will become everyone’s second-favorite Avenger), and he’s going into Avengers: Infinity War with a HUGE amount of audience goodwill, far more than he ever has had before. That’s a good reason to stick around, at least for one more film. (Also, Marvel would have to re-negotiate with him, which means the chance for a MASSIVE RDJ-style deal, and Hemsworth’s reps, if you haven’t heard, are sharks.)
But can they get Taika Waititi? Not too far back, he was making noises that were pretty adamant that this was a one-and-done deal, and he certainly attacked Ragnarok like there was nothing to lose. But more recently, he has sounded amenable to returning for another team-up with Hemsworth. So maybe, but it won’t be soon—if at all—because he’s signed onto the live-action Akira remake. We have no idea where Avengers 4 is going to leave the character (they’ve cast extras for a funeral, but I think we can all guess who that will be), but if Ragnarok proves anything, it’s that a total disregard for continuity makes for a better movie. And Marvel increasingly seems to be letting go of the tightly knit “phases” that defined their earlier films, so maybe Hemsworth and Waititi can come back in a couple years and do another go-round with Thor. Or maybe it’s better to leave it with this one, shining film, a high note on which to exit. With the kind of money Ragnarok is making though, and the goodwill it’s buying everyone involved, it will be hard to resist a sequel victory lap.
Here are Taika and Chris at SiriusXM in New York last week.