‘Wolverine’ wolfs down nearly $5 mil

Midnight shows propel prequel to strong start

Twentieth Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” happily wolfed down close to $5 million in midnight shows in a muscle-bound start for the prequel.

Fox was still tallying up the shows and didn’t have a final number.

“Wolverine,” returning Hugh Jackman in the signature role, was mirrored the midnight performance of “Iron Man,” which opened on the same weekend last year.

“Iron Man” grossed $5 million when opening at 8 p.m. on Thursday and playing into the early hours of Friday.

“Iron Man” posted a boffo opening weekend gross of $102 million.

There were midnight shows of “Wolverine” in roughly 2,000 theaters. Today, the film goes out in a total of 4,099 runs, the widest release ever for fox.

Tracking for “Wolverine” has been through the roof, but Fox isn’t sure what role piracy will play in terms of the film’s opening number. A month ago, a working copy of the film was pirated and leaked on the Internet. Hundreds of thousands of copies were downloaded. Studio insiders say it could cost the film as much as $20 million in lost box office revenues.

There’s also NBA playoffs.

Fox has been saying the film will open in the $70 million range, but the final number could be much higher, depending upon how the weekend plays out, and if the midnight shows are any indication.