"The Wolverine" will claw its way to No. 1 at the box office this weekend, but the climb is tougher than first anticipated.
The 20th Century Fox "X-Men" spin-off slashed its way to a solid, but unspectacular, $21 million on Friday night, and will likely earn around $56 million for the weekend.
The film, once again featuring Hugh Jackman as the titular mutant, will still top this week's box office, but Fox will likely be disappointed as the studio was anticipating a $65 million opening. "Wolverine" also had the added benefit of being the sole new wide opener this weekend.
By contrast, 2009's maligned "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" opened to a significantly higher $85.1 million, and went on to gross more than $370 million worldwide.
The new film will still be among the biggest openers this summer, which has seen more than its share of big budget stumbles, including "White House Down," "The Lone Ranger," "Pacific Rim" and last week's "R.I.P.D."
"World War Z" debuted to $66 million earlier this summer, while both "Monsters University" and "Despicable Me 2" opened north of $80 million. "Man of Steel" nabbed $116 million in its opening frame.
Meanwhile, "Wolverine" is reportedly living up to expectations internationally, although no solid numbers have come in yet.
Last week's No. 1, "The Conjuring," scared up another $7.6 million, bringing its domestic total to a stellar $69 million. Its production budget was just $20 million.
"Despicable Me 2" continues to reign as the summer's top 'toon, drawing another $4.8 million on Friday. The film's domestic total stand at a gargantuan $295.1 million, and will probably pass the $300 million mark by the time you finish this article.
"Despicable" left its animated rival, "Turbo" in the dust. In its second week, the film traveled to $4 million, bringing its domestic total to $46.4 million.
Another sequel, "Grown Ups 2," continues to perform well. The Adam Sandler comedy made $3.6 million on Friday, raising its North American box office to a solid $93.8 million.
This weekend was also a big one for specialty releases.
Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," which stars Cate Blanchett, earned a huge $175,991 from a handful of screens, putting it ahead of Allen's last box office hit "Midnight in Paris." The film will likely is make around $500,000 for the weekend, with a huge per-screen average of $93,000, a record for the year.
The Weinstein Co.'s acclaimed "Fruitvale Station" picked up $1.4 million from 1,030 screens, edging out Fox Searchlight's "The Way, Way Back," which earned $970,000 from 886 screens.
Look for complete weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.
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