best man holiday (screenshot)*(Via The Hollywood Reporter) – Malcolm D. Lee’s sequel “The Best Man Holiday” — opening nearly 15 years after the first film — narrowly edged out “Thor: The Dark World” to top the Friday box office, although “Thor 2″ is expected to reclaim the top spot on Saturday.

Universal insiders believe “Best Man Holiday” still has a shot of crossing $30 million in its debut, vastly exceeding expectations (the African-American comedy was projected to gross closer to $20 million).

“Thor 2″ could approach $450 million in global ticket sales by the end of the weekend — catching up with the entire gross of the first Thor ($449.3 million) in another major victory for Disney and Marvel Studios’ “Avengers” universe.

From Universal, “Best Man Holiday” sees Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa reprising their roles. The first film, opening to $9 million in 1999, is credited with helping to usher in the era of aspirational African-American comedies.

Black films have been making strong gains at the North American box office, with “Fruitvale Station,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave” all overperforming. Those movies — all dramas — are drawing a mixed audience, while “Best Man Holiday” is expected to play primarily to African-Americans, similar to Tyler Perry’s pics.

Universal spent a modest $17 million to make the sequel, which Lee produced with Sean Daniel

Get the rest of this story at The Hollywood Reporter.