Pic earned $2.26 mil in preview screenings

Buena Vista Japan is predicting strong B.O. for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” when it opens on 800-plus screens here on Friday following record preview numbers for the distrib.

The film earned ¥262 million ($2.26 million) in preview screenings on 701 screens on Saturday, beating the preview B.O. for BVJ’s previous record holder, “Finding Nemo,” by 19%.

Buena Vista Japan reckons “Narnia” will gross more than $86 million — in the same ballpark as “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” ($89 million).  However, its preview take is more in line with previews for “Spider-Man 2,” which ended its Japan run with $56 million.

Director Andrew Adamson and the film’s stars, including Tilda Swinton, were at the film’s Japan premiere on Feb. 16 at the Budokan Arena in Tokyo.

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