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Thor: The Dark World stayed at No. 1 in its second weekend at the North American box office, but Malcolm D. Lee's African-American comedy The Best Man Holiday came much closer than anyone expected to the hammer-wielding superhero in grossing $30.6 million to place No. 2.
In another sensational showing for Disney and Marvel Studios, Thor 2 -- returning Chris Hemsworth in the title role -- fell 55 percent domestically to $38.4 million for a total of $150 million. Overseas, the 3D tentpole took in $52.5 million from 69 markets for a foreign total of $332.8 million and global haul of $479.8 million -- already surpassing the lifetime grosses of Captain America:
The First Avenger ($371 million) and the first Thor ($449 million).
Enjoying The Avengers halo effect in particular overseas, Thor 2 has already earned more internationally than Captain America ($192 million), Iron Man ($267 million), Thor ($268 million) and Iron Man 2 ($312 million). China leads with $41.8 million, followed by Russia ($31.6 million), the U.K. ($27.4 million), Brazil ($20.9 million) and Mexico ($19.4 million).
Universal's Best Man Holiday, hitting theaters nearly 15 years after the first film, opened notably higher than expected after receiving an A+ CinemaScore in every category. The film, expected to debut in the $20 million range, nabbed the fifth-largest opening ever for an R-rated romantic-comedy and was fueled by females (75 percent). Black movieogers made up 87 percent of the audience.
Best Man Holiday sees Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa reprising their roles. The first film, opening to $9 million in 1999, is credited with helping to usher in the era of aspirational African-American comedies.
"Besides being a great movie, the marketing department did a great job of reaching out to the core audience," said Universal distribution chief Nikki Rocco.
Black films have been making strong gains at the North American box office, with Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels' The Butler and 12 Years a Slave all overperforming. Those movies -- all dramas -- are drawing a mixed audience, while Best Man Holiday is expected to play primarily to African-Americans, similar to Tyler Perry's pics.
The sequel took some amount of business away from Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave, which fell 30 percent to $4.6 million. The awards contender is still one of the biggest indie success stories of the year, grossing $24.9 million to date in North America.
Universal spent a modest $17 million to make Best Man Holiday, which Lee produced with Sean Daniel.
CBS Films continues to prosper with comedy Last Vegas, which came in No. 3 in its third weekend, falling a mere 20 percent to $8.9 million. The pic has now earned $47 million domestically and is the second-highest grossing CBS Films release after The Woman in Black ($54.3 million).
Animated family film Free Birds placed No. 4 in its third outing, grossing $8.3 million for a domestic total of $42.2 million for Relativity Media.
Paramount's Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa crossed the $90 million mark domestically, grossing $7.8 million and coming in No. 5.
Sony's Captain Phillips continues to see strong results across the globe, ending Sunday with a domestic total of $97.6 million and worldwide haul of $164 million.
The weekend was supposed to have seen the debut of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street in North America, but Paramount pushed the film to Christmas Day in order for Scorsese to trim the running time.
Next weekend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire officially kicks off the 2013 year-end holiday season when opening around the globe. The sequel is poised to turn into an instant blockbuster, with bullish box-office observers saying it could open to a mammoth $170 million domestically (the first film debuted to $152.5 million in March 2012).
Catching Fire is rolling out early in Brazil, where it opened over the weekend, grossing $6.3 million -- triple the first film.