Taika Waititi's Hollywood blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok is tipped to earn US$100 million (NZ$137m) in its opening weekend in America - an achievement that would see Waititi become only the second New Zealander to achieve the milestone.

Adam Adamson's Shrek 2 earned just over US$108m (NZ$149m) in its opening weekend in 2004.

New Zealand's best known filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson's most successful opener at the American Box Office was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It brought in US$84,617,303 (NZ$116m) in its 2012 opening weekend.

The star-studded cast of Thor is a big drawcard. The Marvel Studio film features Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Cate Blanchett as Hela and Waititi himself as rock-beast Korg.


The sought-after director is already a record breaker in New Zealand with his locally produced hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople taking $12.1m last year - the biggest ever local title and the 6th biggest movie of all time in New Zealand, according to Motion Pictures Distributors Association figures.

Fans of Waititi's style will not be disappointed with Thor: Ragnarok with the director telling movie site Collider.com he has made his mark on the film.

"There were already story ideas when I came on board, but a lot of that changed over the first three or four months," he said.

Waititi said Marvel Studios wanted to "lighten" superhero Thor and "embrace the adventure" because the previous two Thor films were a bit darker.

"My main focus was making him cool and funny when he needs to be, and heroic when he needs to be. If you've seen my other films, there's always a balance between comedy and drama."

Waititi said he wanted to give Thor fans what they wanted but also to stay true to his own style.

"I have to keep reminding myself that I was hired for a reason and one of those reasons is because of the stories I tell and the films I've made previously."

He revealed most of the scenes in the feature-length film were improvised.

"I'll be next to actors and yell suggestions at them all the time, and that goes for everyone from Tony [Hopkins] to Cate [Blanchett]," he said.

"It's a bit messy, but from that messiness comes some really great spur of the moment stuff. Then the balance is found in the editing."

And Waititi, best known for his hit Boy, was reportedly as much at home on the set with Hollywood heavyweights as on any Kiwi set.

(Back L - R) Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Rachel House, (front L-R) Mark Ruffalo, director Taika Waititi, Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Photo / Getty Images
(Back L - R) Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Rachel House, (front L-R) Mark Ruffalo, director Taika Waititi, Cate Blanchett, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Photo / Getty Images

Collider reporter Tommy Cook said Waititi was "cracking jokes with crew and cast" and blasting music.

"If you thought Waititi would seem nervous at the helm of such a big budget tentpole, then you'd be sorely disappointed," Cook said.

"Of all the sets I've visited, Thor: Ragnarok easily was the most relaxed and fun, a testament to Waititi's playful directorial exuberance."

Fans saw some of that laidback style in a Facebook Live post on the last day of filming.

In it Waititi joked with actor Chris Hemsworth that the film was "going straight to VHS" and there was only going to be one copy so fans would have to share it around.

In reality, the Disney-distributed film will open in theatres worldwide on October 25-26 and in America on November 3.

Globally, there is much anticipation for the film, with Fandango listing Thor: Ragnarok as its most anticipated autumn movie and Chris Hemsworth most anticipated actor.

Locally, the film has rated 100 per cent "want to see" by fans on Flicks.co.nz.

"Marvel films perform extremely well in NZ but we also know New Zealanders support their own and it is the involvement of Taika Waititi as director that will elevate the film's success at the box office," a Disney spokesperson said.

Waititi said Thor: Ragnarok was a standalone film and the storyline didn't rely on seeing the other Thor productions.

"I think they're good films, but I don't mind if people start with this film... It has to be a standalone film because this could be the only time I do this. I just want to make it [my] version of a Marvel film in the best way possible."

And like all other Waititi films the director also has a starring role - along with fellow Kiwi actor Cohen Holloway.

Holloway plays one of the werewolves in What We do in Shadows and was also in Boy.

"He's been in all my films," Waititi, who plays Korg, said.

"There's him... and I'm in it... I'm in all my films. I can't help it. I'll just jam myself in there if there's a space."