Daddy's Home 2, Murder On The Orient Express steal some thunder from Thor

Kenneth Branagh and Daisy Ridley in Murder on the Orient Express.
Kenneth Branagh and Daisy Ridley in Murder on the Orient Express. PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX/NICOLA DOVE

LOS ANGELES (NYTimes) - 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 America 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 gave Hollywood hope that its formulas may not be as broken as many had started to believe.

Thor: Ragnarok collected an estimated US$56.6 million (S$77 million), for a two-week domestic total of US$211.6 million, according to comScore.

Second place went to Daddy's Home 2, which took in about US$30 million, or roughly 20 per cent more than analysts had expected. On the downside, the PG-13 comedy was expensive, costing about US$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 in CinemaScore exit polls. More than 50 per cent of the audience was over age 35.

A glossy remake of Murder was third, with ticket sales of about US$28.2 million, or 30 per cent more than analysts had expected. Murder, starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who was joined on screen by Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and others, received mixed reviews and a B grade in exit polls.

Fox said 35 per cent of the audience was over 35.

Branagh's movie collected an additional US$45.8 million overseas. The film cost at least US$55 million to produce.