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Opening day: 'G.I. Joe' headed for $60-million opening

August 8, 2009 |  9:24 am

GIJoeSwords Paramount may just have another successful big screen brand.

"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" sold a studio-estimated $22.3 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada on its opening day. If it follows the path of other big summer action movies, it should end up earning around $60 million for its three-day opening weekend.

Given the movie's $175-million production budget, that would be a solid start and, assuming audience word-of-mouth is strong, put it on track for a healthy box office run. According to market research firm CinemaScore, opening day moviegoers gave "G.I. Joe" a grade of B+, once again contradicting the view of critics, as they did on Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." That would seem to validate the studio's strategy to not screen the picture for print and broadcast critics before it opened and to focus much of the marketing at blue-collar audiences in smaller markets.

Though it's headed for a good opening, "G.I. Joe" isn't on track to do as well as Paramount's other cinematic re-launch of a well known brand, "Star Trek," which made $75.2 million on its opening weekend. Nonetheless, it would put the studio in the enviable position of having a third big-screen brand it can produce a sequel for in the next few years, along with "Trek" and "Transformers."

Sony Pictures' "Julie and Julia," the weekend's other big release, earned $6.5 million Friday. It will likely end up grossing a little under $20 million for the weekend, a good start for a movie that cost about $40 million to produce and is targeted mainly at adult women, who don't tend to go to theaters as often as young males, who are expected to be the biggest segment of the "G.I. Joe" crowd.

Update (9:55 AM): "Funny People" is apparently finding a dead crowd on its second weekend, as ticket sales plummeted 70% on Friday from the previous week.

Update (Aug. 9, 3:05 PM): "G.I. Joe" grossed a studio-estimated $56.2 million domestically and $44 million overseas. Details here.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: A scene from "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Credit: Frank Masi, Paramount Pictures.

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