'First Class' midnight grosses track toward $60 mil

“X-Men: First Class” got off to a hot start Thursday with midnight grosses tallying $3.375 million, putting it on track for the $60 million range — well past Twentieth Century Fox’s original modest expectations.

Studio originally counted on the high-$40 million mark for its comicbook prequel bowing this weekend in 3,641 locations, but critics’ love and strong word of mouth have the film on track to collect between $20 million-$24 million in Friday showings.

Add in those Thursday midnight totals from 1,783 locations nationwide, and it’s looking like “First Class” has a shot at besting “Thor.”

In fact, “First Class” has already outpaced Paramount’s “Thor” in midnight grosses. That pic scored $3.25 million from late-night earnings and went on to gross $65.7 million during its opening weekend.

“Thor” beat “First Class” in midnight pre-sales when it bowed May 6, but the God of Thunder had Imax — a significant contributor to advanced ticket sales — on its side. The fact that “First Class” ultimately outdid “Thor” in midnights means that the Fox pic likely had better-than-average walk-ups Thursday night.

Pic already is off to a fantastic start in New York, with matinees totaling $1 million and good weather slowing traffic for most pics, except for “First Class.” “The Hangover Part II” earned $1.8 million by this time last week in Gotham — a good sign for “First Class” — though “Hangover II” bowed on a Thursday, when most first-responders attended.

And like the Warner Bros. laffer, “First Class” is a double threat when it expands Friday to total U.S. engagements, with terrific interest among men and strong tracking with women.

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