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Box Office: ‘Zootopia’ Running Wild for $67 Million Opening

Disney’s “Zootopia” is showing plenty of bounce at the U.S. box office, with the film set for a dominating $67 million weekend at 3,827 sites, according to early projections Friday.

The animated comedy easily leads all weekend moviegoing, with Gramercy’s action sequel “London Has Fallen” set to take a solid $23 million, while Paramount’s Tina Fey comedy “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” will fade quickly with less than $8 million.

Fox’s fourth weekend of surprise hit “Deadpool” remains a player with about $16 million — which will lift it past the $300 million mark on Saturday.

Zootopia” showed clearly that it was drawing from outside its core audience of children in Thursday night previews with $1.7 million, Disney’s top non-summer preview gross for an animated movie. The film centers on a rabbit (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) trying to establish herself as a cop in a city filled with other anthropomorphic animals.

With a $65 million-plus opening, “Zootopia” will beat the record held by 2014’s “Big Hero 6” for the top launch weekend for a non-Pixar Disney title. It has a chance at becoming the 12th animated movie to open at more than $70 million, a list led by the 2007 launch of “Shrek the Third” at $121 million.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, credited Disney with adept handling.

“‘Zootopia’ is off to a rollicking start, and with great reviews, a terrific marketing campaign and a family film marketplace that has seen a mere trickle of product over the past few month, the marketplace is primed and ready to make this one of the most successful Walt Disney Animation Studios titles ever and in the process kicks off a box office month of March that will clearly start on a high note,” he said.

Dergarabedian also pointed out that moviegoers are beginning to take note of the March 25 debut of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

“‘London Has Fallen’ and ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ will have more modest debuts, but will nonetheless enhance and overall weekend that along with the ubiquitous ‘Deadpool’ that will generate strong overall returns over this early March frame,” he added.

“Zootopia” was projected with $18 million on Friday compared with $8 million for “London Has Fallen” at 3,490 locations. Online ticketing service Fandango reported that “Zootopia” accounted for 60% of Friday sales and was outselling “The Lego Movie” at the same point in the sales cycle.

“Zootopia” reviews have been stellar with a Rotten Tomatoes score at 99%. The international total is $98 million after three weekends with openings in China, Germany and Russia this weekend.

The performance of “London Has Fallen” is a quick redemption for star Gerard Butler a week after his “Gods of Egypt” underperformed in its opening with just $14 million — problematic given the $140 million price tag for “Egypt,” more than double the $60 million budget for “London.”

Butler returns as a Secret Service agent three years after “Olympus Has Fallen” along with Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman returning as the president and vice president. “Olympus” opened to $30 million in 2013 on its way to a $99 million domestic total.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” a comedy that finds Fey’s character reporting from the Afghanistan war zone, appears to be underperforming recent estimates of $10 million to $12 million at 2,374 sites. “Whiskey” has a $35 million production price tag and a respectable 61% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it may be helped by word of mouth in coming weeks.

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