Fox reports that The Wolverine grossed $21 million on Friday, including $4 million from Thursday night shows. Based on that figure, BoxOffice projects the Hugh Jackman sequel will bank $54 million over opening weekend.
Those numbers are solid especially at the tail end of a very busy summer, but The Wolverine is falling short of most expectations. By comparison, Captain America: The First Avenger debuted with a $25.7 million opening day as part of a strong $65.1 million weekend on the same weekend two summers ago.
More close to home, The Wolverine's first day take couldn't quite keep pace with the $21.4 million generated by X-Men: First Class--and that film didn't have 3D or large format theaters to boost ticket revenue.
While few expected this latest franchise entry to reach the $34.4 million opening day and $85.1 million weekend of 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the 39 percent gross decline in first day business is notable given that it was the last time Wolverine led a film. In terms of attendance on opening day, The Wolverine declined a massive estimated 50 percent from the 2009 prequel and marks the least-attended X-Men franchise film to date.
While it is likely that some fatigue is responsible for the softer demand (this is Wolvy's fifth turn as the lead character, after all), the good news is that word of mouth appears much stronger out of the gate for this entry. Flixster users currently give the film an 80 percent approval rating. On top of that, buzz for next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past has been steadily growing over the last few months as one of the most discussed films across social network platforms. Fans are clearly still excited for the future of the franchise, albeit with some cautious optimism. The Wolverine simply seems to have failed to connect with the general audience as strongly as previous series entries, likely thanks to the film's fan-centric premise (based on a popular comic book storyline) and a "been there, done that" vibe. Nevertheless, chalk up an otherwise solid opening to the enduring popularity of Jackman and his interpretation of the character.
The Conjuring held up very well as its word of mouth continues to expand beyond the typical horror crowd. The Warner Bros. hit was down just 56.6 percent from its opening day for another $7.36 million on Friday. With $69.1 million in the bank after just 8 days, The Conjuring has now caught up to Paranormal Activity 3's domestic haul through the point in release. BoxOffice projects an impressive $24 million sophomore weekend as the film begins to set its sights on $100 million domestically--a mark it should reach by next weekend.
Despicable Me 2 will retain third place in its fourth weekend after grossing $4.8 million yesterday, off just 35.7 percent from last Friday. The film's cume is now $295.2 million and will topple the $300 million threshold on Saturday. With no new competition for families in the market, the sequel should rake in $16.3 million this weekend before Sony's The Smurfs 2 opens next Wednesday.
Fox's Turbo added $4.02 million on Friday, increasing its domestic total to $46.5 million through 10 days. The animated film should bag $13.5 million for its second weekend.
Meanwhile, TWC's Fruitvale Station posted an impressive $1.45 million on Friday after expanding into 1,064 theaters. Buzz around the film continues to grow, especially in the wake of this week's news that its directing and acting team of Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively, will pair up for the Rocky spinoff, Creed. BoxOffice projects a $4.5 million weekend for Fruitvale Station. Word of mouth should continue to spread as one of 2013's early Oscar buzz generators.
The Way Way Back also posted a respectable expansion into 886 theaters yesterday. With a Friday take of $970,000, that film is tracking for a solid $3.3 million weekend.
Additional reporting by Daniel Garris.