the wolverine Hugh Jackman

X-Men spinoff easy No. 1 with $24 million Friday

Fox and Marvel’s “The Wolverine” may not be the box office superhero Hollywood anticipated but it’s still packing a punch.

The X-Men spinoff, starring Hugh Jackman, was on track for one of the best debuts of the summer with early predictions of as much as $80 million at the U.S. box office, putting an end to Hollywood’s big-budget losing streak. But on Friday, early ticket sales indicated that Fox’s 3D sequel was slowing down to a pace that would likely result in an estimated $63 million weekend.

Fox initially projected a $65 million debut for Jackman’s “Wolverine” sequel, downplaying expectations for the $100 million film, but given the popularity of the X-Men franchise combined with the fact that “The Wolverine” is the only new wide release over the July 26 weekend, the number was expected to jump.

Still, “The Wolverine” is hardly a flop.

Produced for over $100 million, “The Wolverine” earned an impressive $4 million Thursday night and is performing ahead of 2011′s “X-Men: First Class,” which went on to gross $55.6 million in its 2011 debut.

“The Wolverine” is also riding a 67% fresh rating from RottenTomatoes.com and opens day-and-date in 62 territories in what should be a pretty substantial weekend worldwide for the James Mangold-directed film.

Small Fortune

After expanding to 1,100 locations, “Fruitvale Station” remains poised for an upright $4 million. The Weinstein Company drama, about the real-life shooting of Oscar Grant by a BART policeman , is riding a wave of national contention over the similar Trayvon Martin verdict.

Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” bowing at six locations, should cross $100,000 with a current $20,000 per screen average. Lines were snaking around the block for early evening screenings in New York, while Hollywood’s Arclight Theaters were nearly sold out for Friday night shows.

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