The sequel, which arrives 14 years after the original, gives 'Thor' a tough challenge.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We've listened to your comments and thanks for sharing them. Valid points. The original headlines were an attempt to capture that films with black casts have done exceptionally well at the box office this year. Good intentions here, but unfortunately the story's message didn't translate well in the headline, so editors revised the story.
With Leonardo DiCaprio's The Wolf of Wall Street moving to a Christmas Day release, box-office analysts expected a particularly easy win for Thor: The Dark World, in only its second weekend of release.
Instead, the god of thunder nearly got a beatdown from The Best Man Holiday.
With a boost from teen moviegoers, Thor squeaked out the win for the second straight weekend with $38.5 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak.
But the story of the weekend was Holiday, a sequel that arrived 14 years after the original, sported a budget of just $17 million and was marketed specifically to African-American women. Holiday collected $30.6 million, more than twice what many analysts projected.
Other films with predominantly black casts have been hot sellers at the turnstiles this year. Fruitvale Station, the $900,000 real-life drama about a black Bay Area man shot to death by transit officers, has done $16 million. And Lee Daniels' The Butler, the $30 million true story of a black White House butler, was the box-office surprise of summer at $115 million.
Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers says that while the 1999 original was only a modest hit at $34 million, its video sales remained strong as stars Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Morris Chestnut saw their stars rise.
Universal Pictures smartly emphasized that Holiday "functions as a reunion, both for the characters and for the actors," Subers says. "These themes align nicely with the holiday season."
Analysts say that while Thor can claim the crown, Holiday's cast and devotees can crack the champagne, much as they did 14 years ago.
"Best Man Holiday fans stole the show," says Todd Cunningham, box-office columnist for trade website TheWrap.com. "By partying like it was 1999."
The comedy Last Vegas was third with $8.9 million, followed by the animated comedy Free Birds with $8.3 million. The Jackass installment Bad Grandpa rounded out the top five with $7.7 million.
Final figures are expected Monday.