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LOS ANGELES — Score two for old-fashioned star power.
A pair of new wide-release movies, “Daddy’s Home 2” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” both of which rely on starry ensembles, arrived to stronger-than-expected ticket sales in North American theaters over the weekend. Although neither could topple “Thor: Ragnarok,” which remained No. 1 for a second week, the sturdy results for “Daddy’s Home 2” and “Murder on the Orient Express” gave Hollywood hope that its formulas may not be as broken as many had started to believe.
“Thor: Ragnarok” (Walt Disney Studios) collected an estimated $56.6 million, for a two-week domestic total of $211.6 million, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. Disney said the Marvel-branded superhero movie has now taken in $650.1 million worldwide.
Second place went to “Daddy’s Home 2,” which took in about $30 million, or roughly 20 percent more than analysts had expected before release. On the downside, the PG-13 comedy was expensive, costing about $70 million to produce. “Daddy’s Home 2,” starring Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Will Ferrell and John Lithgow, received poor reviews but clicked with audiences, who gave it an A-minus grade in CinemaScore exit polls. More than 50 percent of the audience was over age 35.
Even so, it will take much more than one box office win to stabilize Paramount, which has suffered a string of misfires, including “Suburbicon,” “Mother!,” “Monster Trucks” and “Baywatch.” Last week, the studio, which ranks last among Hollywood’s major studios in domestic market share, parted ways with its marketing and distribution chief.
A glossy remake of “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox) was third, with ticket sales of about $28.2 million, or 30 percent more than analysts had expected. “Murder on the Orient Express,” starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who was joined on screen by Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley and others, received mixed reviews and a B grade in CinemaScore exit polls. Fox said that 35 percent of the audience was over 35.
Mr. Branagh’s movie collected an additional $45.8 million overseas. The film cost at least $55 million to produce.
Also of note: Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” (A24), which has received rave reviews, making it a strong candidate for Oscar attention, collected $1.2 million in just 37 theaters, for a two-week total of $1.8 million — outperforming early results for awards-season hits like “Spotlight” in 2015 and “Birdman” in 2014. “Lady Bird” will arrive in more theaters next weekend.
Playing on four screens, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight), another Oscar candidate, took in a stout $320,000.