"Wolverine" slashes rivals in $160 million global bow

Sun May 3, 2009 7:43pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comic book movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" slashed its rivals at box offices over the weekend with a $160 million worldwide debut, leaping to No. 1 on ticket charts in a solid start to Hollywood's summer.

The action adventure, starring Hugh Jackman as the heroic Wolverine who wields long claws as his weapons, raked in $87 million in the United States and Canada and helped push total ticket sales just slightly ahead of the same weekend last year, according to tracking service Hollywood.com Box Office.

Landing at No. 2 on domestic box office charts with $15.3 million was romantic comedy "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," starring Matthew McConaughey. Last week's No. 1, thriller "Obsessed," dropped to third place with a weekend haul of $12.2 million for a cumulative total of $47 million in two weeks.

But it was "Wolverine" that lured the vast majority of fans to theaters. It was widely watched as the first major film of the studio's summer movie season that runs through August and can account for 35 to 40 percent of the annual ticket sales.

The $87 million domestic box office for "Wolverine" was lower than the $98.6 million debut of last year's No. 1 film, "Iron Man,' and box office trackers had estimated an opening in a range of $85 million to $100 million.

But Chris Aronson, senior vice president of domestic distribution at "Wolverine" backer Twentieth Century Fox, said the studio was guiding industry watchers lower for reasons that included the movie being the fourth in the "X-Men" series.

"I'd been telling people that at anything over $70 million, we were going to be very happy," he said.

Moreover, Aronson said "Wolverine" enjoyed the second biggest domestic opening for an "X-Men" movie behind "X-Men: The Last Stand," which posted a $102 million debut in May 2006 and eventually earned $459 million globally.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Hugh Jackman poses at an industry screening of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California in this April 28, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>