Natalie Portman and Chris Hemworth in 'Thor: Love and Thunder'
Natalie Portman and Chris Hemworth in 'Thor: Love and Thunder' Image Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney

The Marvel sequel ‘Thor: Love & Thunder’ dropped a hefty 68 per cent in its second weekend of release but still held the top spot at the box office in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday, while the bestseller adaptation ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ debuted with a better-than-expected $17 million.

Taika Waititi’s ‘Love and Thunder’, out in UAE cinemas, led all films with an estimated $46 million, bringing its two-week global total to $498 million. The sizable decline is more than most Marvel films but in line with recent releases from the Walt Disney Co. superhero studio, including ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ (68 per cent), ‘Black Widow’ (68 per cent) and ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ (67 per cent).

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Christian Bale in 'Thor: Love and Thunder' Image Credit: Marvel Studios

‘Love and Thunder’ also faced a trio of newcomers, though none came close to toppling Chris Hemsworth’s god of thunder. Best among them was Sony Pictures’ ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ Olivia Newman’s adaptation of Delia Owens’ 2018 North Carolina-set novel. It opened well despite weak reviews (36 per cent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).

The Reese Witherspoon-produced mystery stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as a woman who raised herself in the coastal Carolina marshlands and focuses on a murder investigation of a local celebrity. Moviegoers liked it better than critics, giving it an A- CinemaScore.

Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick'
Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick' Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

It was a particularly good result for a page-to-screen drama, and another sign that adult audiences — who have also helped fuel the success of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (still in fourth place with $12 million in its eighth weekend) and ‘Elvis’ (up to $106.2 million after four weeks) — are nearly all the way back to pre-pandemic levels after going largely absent for much of the last two-plus years.

Appealing to a similar demographic, Focus Features’ ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,’ starring Lesley Manville as a London cleaner who pines for a Dior dress, also opened strongly, with $1.9 million in 980 theatres. Said Focus distribution chief Lisa Bunnell: “Older movie-goers are returning to enjoy the in-theatre experience.”

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'Minions: The Rise of Gru' Image Credit: Illumination Entertainment

Meanwhile, the Illumination animated sequel ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’, out in UAE, held the second spot with $26 million in its third weekend of release. The Universal Pictures release has thus far grossed $262.6 million domestically and $532.7 million worldwide, setting box-office records along the way.

The Minions made it difficult for a new family entry: ‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.’ The Paramount Pictures animated release, loosely adapted from Mel Brooks’ ‘Blazing Saddles,’ launched with a modest $6.3 million.