NEW YORK – The Marvel sequel “Thor: Love & Thunder” dropped a hefty 68% in its second weekend of release but still held the top spot at the box office, 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” 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%), “Black Widow” (68%) and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (67%).
“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% 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.
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 theaters. Said Focus distribution chief Lisa Bunnell: “Older movie-goers are returning to enjoy the in-theater experience.”
Meanwhile, the Illumination animated sequel "Minions: The Rise of Gru” 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.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” $46 million.
2. “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” $26 million.
3. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” $17 million.
4. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $12 million.
5. “Elvis,” $7.6 million.
6. “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” $6.3 million
7. “The Black Phone,” $5.3 million.
8. “Jurassic: Dominion,” $5 million.
9. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” $1.9 million.
10. “Lightyear,” $1.3 million.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP