‘Straight Outta Compton’ Rising to $50 Million Opening

Straight Outta Compton” is heading straight for a dominant opening weekend of nearly $50 million at the U.S. box office, according to early estimates Friday.

The music biopic about the influential rap group N.W.A is overperforming significantly with nearly double what Universal had been forecasting earlier this week, when it projected a weekend in the $25 million to $29 million range.

Friday’s total for “Straight Outta Compton” looked likely to come in the $18 million to $19 million range with a Friday-Sunday total in the $45 million to $49 million area. That’s more than triple for Friday’s total will be around $5 million for an opening around $15 million.

“‘Straight Outta Compton’ has become a total cross-over kind of movie that’s captured the zeitgeist with a real groundswell of people wanting to see it,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak. “There’s been growing anticipation for it all summer. Now that it’s out, the story is really resonating among moviegoers.”

The film grossed an impressive $4.96 million in previews at 2,264 screens on Thursday night — more than five times Guy Ritchie’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” which took in $900,000 in its first showings. That number was 25% above the Thursday night take on July 30 for “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” on its way to a $55.5 million opening weekend.

“Straight Outta Compton,” directed by F. Gary Gray, is launching at 2,755 North American theaters Friday. O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays his father, Ice Cube, while Corey Hawkins stars as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell plays Eazy-E. Producers are original N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, along with Gray, Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright, Matt Alvarez and Scott Bernstein.

The heightened presence of law enforcement agencies at theaters did not appear to be holding down moviegoer interest in “Compton.” The film includes scenes of gang violence and police harassment — including the 1991 Rodney King beating in Los Angeles and a re-enactment of a 1989 concert in Detroit where the band performs their song “F— tha Police.”

The $29 million film, co-financed by Legendary, is also opening in the wake of demonstrations against police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., and the July 23 killings of two movie patrons at a Louisiana theater showing of “Trainwreck.” There were no reports of violence at the first showings of “Straight Outta Compton.”

Reviews have been largely laudatory with an 87% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The performance will keep Universal’s hot streak at the 2015 box office in tact following hits with “Jurassic World,” “Minions,” “Trainwreck,” “Furious 7” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The studio announced on Aug. 5 that it had topped Fox’s all-time record for worldwide grosses in a year with $5.53 billion.

Warner Bros. is expecting a far more modest launch from “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” which stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander. The film is set in the 1960s against the backdrop of the Cold War.

The opening estimates range from $15 million to $20 million — a moderate start for a film with a $75 million price tag. “U.N.C.L.E.” is expected to perform well among female moviegoers at 3,638 U.S. locations. Reviews have been 67% positive of Rotten Tomatoes.

The Europe-set spy thriller is also opening in about 40% of the international market this weekend, including the U.K., Australia and Germany.

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