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THOR: THE DARK WORLD hauled in an impressive $85.7 million in its domestic opening weekend, per Monday’s final box office results. The Marvel Studios sequel improved upon the $65.7 million opening of its predecessor, 2011’s THOR, by 30%. Even more impressive, however, is the $327.4 million worldwide total the film has amassed since being released in several international markets on October 30th. At this rate, the sequel will have eclipsed the first movie’s $449.3 million global box office total by this time next week, if not sooner. By the end of its run, THOR: THE DARK WORLD has a realistic chance of surpassing IRON MAN 2’s $623.9 million to become Marvel’s second highest-grossing solo film, behind only IRON MAN 3.

Substantial growth is the primary objective of any sequel and Marvel has certainly found its mark. As the second film in the second phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, THOR: THE DARK WORLD is yet another beneficiary of Marvel’s increasingly powerful brand in a post-AVENGERS world. Earlier this year, IRON MAN 3 nearly doubled the total of its previous franchise record holder, the aforementioned IRON MAN 2, with almost $1.22 billion worldwide. These numbers form a clear picture of Marvel Studios’ unquestionable success in the execution of its unprecedented strategy.

It would have been significant enough for the release of five successful solo films to lay the groundwork for the eventual team up film’s phenomenal box office run. As Marvel’s last two films have now proven, however, that was only the beginning. THE AVENGERS is now giving back its own multiplier effect to the solo franchises, dramatically increasing the earnings potential of each. Being backed by the marketing and distribution wizards at parent company Disney has also been a critical factor in Marvel’s financial growth.

President of Production Kevin Feige and the rest of the Marvel Studios brain trust are a seemingly unstoppable creative force, churning out hit after hit even as directors, writers, and sometimes stars exit the MCU franchises. Their secret weapon is the unbridled confidence they have in their intellectual property, believing that the characters and story elements they need to capture the world’s imagination can already be found in the pages of the thousands of comics they’ve published. They know what they need to communicate in order to make their characters palatable to mainstream audiences while satisfying the more particular tastes of die hard fans. They also have a keen sense for which talented creators can best facilitate those adaptations.

Marvel Studios is conducting a master class in creative collaboration and bringing comic books to life. THOR: THE DARK WORLD is the latest lesson.