Murder on the Orient Express and Daddy’s Home 2 are in a dead heat for a box office triumph – second place behind Thor: Ragnarok. It turns out, a lot of people like to watch superhero movies, leaving its competition to fend for leftover audiences. Neither director-star Kenneth Branagh’s murder mystery adaptation nor the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy sequel are doing particularly great critically – still, that’s not stopping both films from exceeding expectations financially.
Branagh (who actually directed the first Thor film) gathered an all-star cast for Orient Express,based on the famous Agatha Christie novel. The cast includes Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr. and Star Wars‘ Daisy Ridley; but many critics say that Branagh’s lavish film misuses the talent in front of the camera. Audiences were more receptive, with a CinemaScore of B. Meanwhile in Daddy’s Home 2, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are joined by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson as their fathers, respectively. Scathing reviews call the comedy formulaic, but again, audiences awarded the film an A- CinemaScore, even beating the first film’s B+.
According to THR, Marvel Studios and Disney’s Thor: Ragnarok continues to dominate, earning more than $54 million in its second weekend in theaters, while Orient Express and Daddy’s Home are neck and neck for #2. The former film is screening in 3,341 theaters and made $10.8 million on Friday – on the other end, the latter comedy film is playing in 3,575 theaters and earned $10.9 million on opening day. Of course, both figures are far cries from Ragnarok‘s authoritative box office haul, but the spot below is all other studios can hope to take for the time being.
For now, it appears that superhero films are Hollywood’s best bet to get butts into seats. After a bleak summer box office recovered in September, thanks to films like IT, numbers again plummeted in October, with box office duds such as Suburbicon, Thank You For Your Service, Geostorm and the critically acclaimed Blade Runner 2049.
Thor: Ragnarok helped to inject some much needed life into movie theaters, but little room is being left for other films. With Justice League on the way next weekend, movies such as Murder on the Orient Express and Daddy’s Home 2 will likely be pushed aside as the superhero titans compete for the top spot. Pixar’s Coco – another Disney release – will enter the fray the weekend after that, but post-Coco, things will likely quiet down again until the mid-December arrivals of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.