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Box Office: ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Opens With $3.7 Million on Thursday

Variety logo Variety 3/10/2017 Dave McNary
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Kong: Skull Island” has opened with a solid $3.7 million in Thursday night preview screenings in North America.

The Warner Bros.-Legendary Entertainment tentpole — the only major new release in the marketplace  — has been forecast to take in $45 million to $50 million at 3,846 sites this weekend. The Thursday night number is less than half of the $9.5 million preview total for Hugh Jackman’s “Logan” a week ago.

Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and Brie Larson star in “Kong: Skull Island,” a reboot of the King Kong franchise set on an uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. The film, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, has a hefty $185 million price tag. It’s opening with strong reviews, leading to an impressive 79% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have lauded the film’s visual effects and fast-paced story.

“Kong: Skull Island” is also opening in 65 international markets this weekend. The film comes 84 years after the much-admired original “King Kong,” starring Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, debuted. It’s the second installment in the “MonsterVerse” series between Legendary and Warner Bros., following  2014’s “Godzilla,” which grossed $529.1 million globally on a $160 million budget.”Godzilla 2″ has been set for a March, 22, 2019, opening and “Godzilla vs. Kong” is planned for a May 21, 2020 launch.

The giant ape is facing a sturdy challenge for first place at the domestic box office from Fox’s second weekend of Hugh Jackman’s “Logan,” the R-rated fantasy-actioner that’s Jackman’s final portrayal of Wolverine. “Logan” over-performed in its opening weekend with $88.4 million and is expected to generate between $40 million and $45 million in its second session at 4,071 sites.

Blumhouse-Universal’s third weekend of comic horror-thriller “Get Out” should lead the rest of the pack with about $20 million. “Get Out,” directed by Jordan Peele and starring Dan Kaluuya, has performed well above forecasts with $90 million so far at the domestic box office.

The strong performances by “Logan” and “Get Out” have lifted the year-to-date domestic box office to $1.99 billion, or 2.8% behind the same point last year as of March 7, according to comScore. This year’s box office had been lagging last year’s by as much as 6% but that gap should be closing this month, particularly with the March 17 launch of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

“The month of March is becoming a box office beauty with ‘Logan’ already crossing the $100 million mark and ‘Kong: Skull Island’ set for a solid debut that will pit these two beasts against each other in a celebrity death match at multi-plexes this weekend,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, comScore’s senior media analyst. “Now boasting eight films to cross the $100 million mark, 2017 is still running 2.8% behind 2016’s pace at this point, but that is all about to change once ‘Kong’ and then ‘Beauty and The Beast’ among others hit theaters in the coming weeks and start turning the box office tide in favor of what is ramping up to be the biggest year in theaters ever.”

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