"Wolverine" set to dominate pack at box office

Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:52pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's a little early to start lathering on the Coppertone with even Memorial Day still a month away, but Hollywood's summertime fun officially begins at midnight Thursday.

The industry kicks off its most lucrative box office season with Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." A spin-off of the studio's successful "X-Men" film franchise, the Hugh Jackman vehicle looks likely to open with at least $80 million domestically -- though Fox executives insist even a $70 million bow would be acceptable on the $150 million picture.

With many of Thursday night's roughly 1,500 midnight performances for "Wolverine" selling out, Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder forecast a "wonderful weekend."

This time last year, Marvel/Paramount's "Iron Man" opened to a surprisingly strong $102.1 million. The Robert Downey Jr. superhero picture went on to earn $318.4 million domestically.

The "Wolverine" opening will also be compared with the three "X-Men" pictures, each of which outpaced its predecessor at home and abroad throughout each theatrical run:

-- "X-Men" bowed in July 2000 with $54.5 million domestically and grossed $157.3 million in the U.S. and Canada, part of a $296.3 million worldwide tally.

-- "X2: X-Men United" debuted in May 2003 with $85.6 million while ringing up $214.9 million overall domestically and $407.7 million on a worldwide basis.

-- "X-Men: The Last Stand" bowed with $122.9 million in May 2006, and grossed $234.4 million domestically and $459.4 million worldwide.   Continued...