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'Thor' Holds Top Spot at Box Office

By Jake Coyle

NEW YORK -- In an unlikely battle of sequels, Thor: The Dark World bested The Best Man Holiday at the box office.

Disney's (DIS) Thor: The Dark World continued its box-office reign with $38.5 million in its second week of release, according to studio estimates Sunday. Opening 15 years after the original The Best Man, Universal's (CMCSA) The Best Man Holiday opened strongly with $30.6 million.

Drawing an overwhelmingly female and African-American audience, The Best Man Holiday was a surprise challenger for the mighty Thor. The R-rated romantic comedy, with an ensemble cast, including Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs, debuted with more than three times the box office of 1999's The Best Man. That film opened with $9 million.

Marvel's Norse superhero, however, has been hammering audiences around the globe. Thor: The Dark World made $52.5 million internationally over the weekend, bringing its worldwide total to $479.8 million. With Chris Hemsworth as the title character and Tom Hiddleston as the popular villain Loki, the Thor franchise has proven to be one of Marvel's most successful.

Just as Thor approached the half-billion mark, Warner Bros. (TWX) space adventure Gravity crossed it in its seventh week of release.

The Best Man Holiday was the only new wide-release opening over the weekend, as the marketplace clears out for the release of Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In limited release, Alexander Payne's black-and-white Midwest road trip Nebraska opened in four locations with a strong $35,000 per-theater average for Paramount Pictures (VIA).

Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street was originally slated to open, but was postponed to Dec. 25 by Paramount.

Expected to be one of the year's biggest debuts, Lionsgate's (LGF) Catching Fire will abruptly close the box-office window for Thor next weekend. Catching Fire opened in Brazil over the weekend, earning $6.3 million.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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