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'Wolverine' opening looks strong, but could fail to match previous 'X-Men' movie

May 2, 2009 | 10:23 am


Summer 2009 is starting off a lot like summer 2008 at the box office.

Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the first big-budget picture of the popcorn movie season, grossed approximately $35 million on Friday, almost exactly the same as last year’s summer-launching “Iron Man” did on its first day.                   

Matching the latter flick’s nearly $100-million opening weekend haul will be difficult, however, given “Wolverine’s” significantly weaker reviews. If audience interest fades as quickly as it did for 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which saw a 29% drop in returns from Friday to Saturday, the three-day gross could be as low as $80 million for the spin-off starring Hugh Jackman. “Iron Man,” by contrast, actually increased returns on its second day, presaging a remarkable box office run.

But even a gross in the $80 million to $90 million range would mark a very respectable, if not quite jaw-dropping, start for “Wolverine,” which Fox says cost $130 million but production sources peg at $140 million-plus.

Also on Friday, the Matthew McConaughey–Jennifer Garner romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” opened to $5.8 million. That sets it up to earn just a bit over $15 million for Warner Bros.’ New Line label this weekend, a so-so debut in line with what “Made of Honor” grossed against “Iron Man.” The weekend’s other wide release, Roadside Attractions' animated feature "Battle for Terra," nabbed $225,000 off 1,159 screens.

-- Ben Fritz