Fox's 'X-Men' prequel nabs $35 million Friday

Twentieth Century Fox’s prequel “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” kicked off the summer box office with a boffo opening day gross of $35 million from 4,099 theaters domestically, including roughly $5 million in midnight runs.

Among the “X-Men” installments opening in May, “Wolverine” ranks second behind 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” which grossed $45.1 million on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. (“Last Stand” had the advantage of opening over a holiday weekend).

“Wolverine” came in safely ahead of “X2: X-Men United,” which opened on the first Friday in May 2003 with $31.2 million and finished the weekend at $85.6 million. “Wolverine” also marks the widest release in the history of Twentieth Century Fox.

“Wolverine’s” notable bow marks the sixth time that a Marvel Studio superhero pic has opened in the top spot at the May box office; the first being “Spider-Man” which generated $39.4 million in 2002. At the same point last year, Marvel succeeded in launching a new franchise with “Iron Man” after the film exceeded expectations with a first day haul of $38.7 million.

Similar to Sony’s “Made of Honor” last year which made $5.6 million on its first Friday, Warner Bros./New Line’s “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” proved to be solid counter-programming to the fan boy demos of “Wolverine” as the romantic comedy banked $5.8 million from 3,175.

Placing third was last weekend’s No. 1 pic “Obsessed” from Sony-Screen Gems. The Beyonce Knowles-Ali Larter starrer drew $4.2 million off 2,514, repping a 63% decline, and an eight-day running cume of $39 million.

Warner Bros./New Line’s teen laffer “17 Again” took fourth with $2 million from 3,255, down 48%, and a total B.O. in its third Friday of $44.1 million.

Rounding out fifth was Paramount-DreamWorks’ drama “The Soloist” grossing $1.7 million from 2,033, down 48%, for an eight-day B.O. of $14.2 million.

Roadside Attractions’ animated feature “Battle for Terra,” the day’s third wide release, posted $225,000 off 1,159 for a per theater $220.

Of those niche releases tracking yesterday, Focus Features’ Jim Jarmusch film “The Limits of Control” touted a per site of $5,741 from three theaters or $17,000.

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