Like it did last year when Iron Man opened with nearly $99 its opening frame May 2nd through 4th, Marvel owns the now semi-official start the summer movie season, with X-Men Origins: Wolverine opening in 4099 theaters across North America beginning Friday.
The film is virtually guaranteed to open #1. Last week's #1 film, Obsessed opened to just $28.6 million in 2500 theaters and Wolverine's only mew competition will be the Matthew McConaughey Dickensian-twisting romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, opening in 3175 theaters.
And though its place as the #1 film at the box office is set, how much it actually makes on the way to the title it much less certain.
As is our wont during such weekends, we want to know how much you thing X-Men Origins: Wolverine will haul in by the time Sunday evening rolls around? Let us know by taking part in our new poll below, but before you do that, here is some information to help your prognostication along.
The previous three X-Men films were a study in ascension, as each successor well outpaced its predecessor on opening weekend.
X-Men took in $54.4m in 2000, X2: X-Men United (the universally most critically well-received of the group) upped the ante to $85.6m in 2003, and the non-critical darling X-Men: That Last Stand opened to $102.8m during the Friday-Sunday portion of its Memorial Day 2006 debut.
As previously mentioned, Marvel's Iron Man opened to $98.6m in 4105 theaters this same weekend last year, and The Incredible Hulk hauled in $55.4 in 3500 theaters last June.
The top 2009 opening weekend so far was for Universal's Fast and Furious, taking in $71m from 3461 theaters the first weekend in April.
And on a general box office note, Wolverine opens on something of a high note for movie ticket sales – i.e. the best winter and spring ever, with domestic revenues up 15% through Tuesday, and admissions up 12%, according to Variety.
Other Tea Leaves
Critically, the film is taking something of a minor beating, though that rarely is a big factor in opening weekends of genre movies. While Newsarama's Simon Blaire liked it just fine, on the movie review compilation site RottenTomatos.com, the film has only generated a 18% favorable review rating (with an average score of 4.6 of 10) in its "Top Critics" category, and just a 38% favorable rating (and an average score of 5 of 10) in its broader catch-all category.
Then there is also the great unknown … What effect – if any – will the illegally downloaded copies of the film that made its way onto bit torrent sites and DVD street vendor tables a month ago have?
According to the box office website boxoffice.com, despite these less-than-positive developments, as of Thursday evening, Fandago.com and Movietickets.com reported that Wolverine accounted for 83% and 73%, respectively, of their online ticket sales, a figure that outpaces Iron Man at the same time last year.
Box office tracking websites are generally falling in the same neighborhood with boxofficemojo.com predicting an $85m opening and boxoffice.com predicting $90m.
According to Variety.com, 20th Century Fox executives are tempering expectations with a $70m estimate, )adding that the illegal download issue could cost the film up to $20 for its entire box office run).
Variety however, reports that despite the tough critical reception, "Tracking suggests the spinoff/prequel could open much higher" than Fox's estimate and that Wolverine is on par with Iron Man.
<a href="http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/1584752/">How Much Will 'X-Men Origins: Wolverrine' Make at the North American Box Office Its Opening Weekend?</a><span style="font-size:9px;">(<a href="http://www.polldaddy.com">online surveys</a>)</span>