'Best Man Holiday' Nearly Steals Thor's Box-Office Thunder

Lightning still managed to strike twice for 'Thor: The Dark World'

"The Best Man Holiday" was the only new wide release brave enough to go up against "Thor: The Dark World" over the weekend. While Marvel's second post-"Avengers" sequel held onto the #1 spot, "Best Man" smashed industry expectations.

Both of them, of course, will have to make way for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," which began with a rumble in Brazil to the tune of $6.3 million. Most of the rest of the movie-going world will have to wait till later this week.

"The Dark World" collected another $38.6 million from 3,841 theaters over the weekend, putting its 10-day domestic total at $147 million (and $479.7 million worldwide). While that's a healthy number for the hammer-wielding Avenger, Marvel's "Iron Man 3" remains the biggest movie of 2013 with its $1.2 billion haul.

"The Best Man Holiday" was the weekend's runner-up, raking in $30.5 million in 2,024 locations, beating Universal's own expectations. "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Book Thief" were both once slated to premiere on the same weekend (a weekend that belonged to "Skyfall" last year), but each of them moved out of the way of "Thor: The Dark World," providing a great window for "Best Man."

Box-office analysts had predicted a debut in the neighborhood of $20 million to $25 million for "The Best Man Holiday," the sequel to 1999's ensemble romantic comedy "The Best Man." Written and directed by Spike Lee's cousin, Malcolm D. Lee, "The Best Man" made just $34.5 million during its entire theatrical run. The movie found a larger audience on DVD, while Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Regina Hall and the rest of the cast spent the next decade-plus turning into much bigger stars.

The follow-up carried a modest production budget of $17 million ($8 million more than "The Best Man"); Marvel's "Thor" budget was literally 10 times that amount. "The Best Man Holiday" was a huge hit among middle-aged African American women, according to Universal's exit polling. Eighty-seven percent of the audience for "The Best Man Holiday" was African American, 75 percent female, 63 percent over 35.

The latest awards-buzzing drama from "The Descendants" and "Sideways" filmmaker Alexander Payne opened in four theaters over the weekend, generating $140,000. Faith-based flick "The Christmas Candle" was in five theaters, where it made close to $76,000. "Dallas Buyer's Club" broke into the top 12 as its theater count grew to 184, giving the Matthew McConaughey drama a $3 million total.

The rest of the top five: "Last Vegas" at #3 with $8.5 million for a $46.9 million total; "Free Birds" at #4 with $8.3 million for a $42.2 million total; and "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," which made $7.6 million for a $90.2 million domestic total.