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Box Office: ‘Hail, Caesar!’ Commands $543,000 on Thursday Night

Universal’s George Clooney comedy “Hail, Caesar!” commanded a moderate $543,000 at 1,815 U.S. theaters on Thursday.

Sony’s horror-drama spoof “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” scared up $300,000 from 2,286 locations in preview screenings while Lionsgate’s romancer “The Choice” took in a quiet $290,000.

Expectations are modest for the trio of openers, with “Zombies” and “Caesar” forecast to finish the Super Bowl weekend with around $10 million each at the domestic box office, and “The Choice” likely to take in around $8 million.

Fox’s second weekend of DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” should repeat as the winner with a dominant $22 million following its debut of $41.3 million last weekend.

“Hail, Caesar!,” Clooney’s fourth movie with the Coen brothers, has received strong critical support with a 78% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, portraying Hollywood studio life in the 1950s, opens at 2,231 sites on Friday.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” starring Lily James, expands to 2,930 locations Friday. The movie is based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody of  Jane Austen’s iconic 1813 novel. Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Sally Phillips, Suki Waterhouse and Charles Dance also star. The film is fully financed by Cross Creek Pictures with Screen Gems distributing.

“The Choice,” starring Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker, is based on Nicholas Sparks 2007 tear-jerker novel and will expand to 2,631 sites on Friday. It was bought by Lionsgate for under $10 million and centers on two neighbors whose love affair is derailed by tragedy.

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