LOS ANGELES, United States - Marvel's latest superhero installment "Thor: Love and Thunder" enjoyed a summer blockbuster debut, hammering competition to top this weekend's North American box office with an estimated $143 million haul, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.
"This is another excellent Marvel opening for a series that started in 2011 and has grown with each episode," said analyst David A. Gross of Franchise Entertainment Research, adding that the film nearly doubled the average take for a 4th episode superhero movie.
The comedic follow-up to 2017's "Thor: Ragnarok" stars a muscle-clad, self-parodying Chris Hemsworth as the space viking who wields the mallet Mjolnir, but also finds himself pining for his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whose help he enlists to battle god butcher Gorr (Christian Bale).
Thor easily beat out "Minions: The Rise of Gru," which slipped to second spot after a phenomenal opening weekend over the July 4th holiday.
The latest goofy installment in Universal's animated "Despicable Me" franchise about the reformed super-villain Gru and his yellow Minions took in $45.5 million in the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Holding steady in third was Paramount's "Top Gun: Maverick," the crowd-pleasing sequel to the original 1986 film that once again features Tom Cruise as cocky US Navy test pilot Pete "Maverick" Mitchell.
The fighter ace feature, in its seventh week in theaters, has now grossed more than $597 million worldwide.
Baz Luhrmann's music biopic "Elvis" -- starring Austin Butler as the King alongside Tom Hanks as his exploitative manager, Colonel Tom Parker -- slipped one spot to fourth in the Warner Bros film's third weekend of release, at $11 million.
Rounding out the top five was "Jurassic World: Dominion," Universal's sixth installment in the "Jurassic Park" franchise, at $8.4 million.
The latest dinosaur frightfest stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard alongside franchise originals Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.
Completing the top 10 were:
"The Black Phone" ($7.6 million)
"Lightyear" ($2.9 million)
"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" ($340,000)
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" ($262,000)
"Mr Malcolm's List" ($245,000)
© Agence France-Presse