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‘Jungle Book’ Climbs to $80 Million Opening at Box Office

Disney’s “The Jungle Book” is aiming for an impressive $80 million opening weekend at 4,028 U.S. stites, early estimates showed Friday.

Should the forecast hold, “The Jungle Book” will notch the third-highest opening weekend of 2016 after “Batman v Superman” at $166 million and “Deadpool” at $132.4 million.

The family-friendly tentpole roared to a robust $4.2 million at Thursday night previews and was headed for a $25 million opening day Friday. The live action-CG hybrid, directed by Jon Favreau, has been embraced by critics and carries a 94% Rotten Tomatoes score.

“The Jungle Book” also has a shot at becoming the third-best April launch if it can top “Fast Five,” which opened in 2011 with $86.2 million. “Fast 7” set the April mark last year with $147.1 million and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is second with $95 million.

“The Jungle Book” is the latest in Disney’s live-action re-imagining of classic stories. “Cinderella” took in $67.9 million on its debut weekend last year en route to a $201.2 million domestic total and a $542.7 million global cume. “Maleficent” opened two years ago with $69.4 million on its way to a $241.4 million domestic total and $758.5 million worldwide.

The $4.2 million preview number for “The Jungle Book” matched that of “Maleficent” and was ahead of “Cinderella,” “Oz” and “Zootopia.” Online ticketing service Fandango said Friday that “The Jungle Book” is outpacing “Cinderella,” “Maleficent” and “Oz: the Great and Powerful” in its advance ticket sales.

Disney’s estimate for “The Jungle Book” earlier this week was around $65 million. The movie is based on the Rudyard Kipling story about Mowgli, an abandoned human boy who becomes friends with jungle animals after being raised by wolves.

Favreau’s film includes Bill Murray voicing Baloo the bear, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the panther, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the snake and Lupita Nyong’o as the mother wolf Raksha. Newcomer Neel Sethi stars as Mowgli.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with ComScore, said the movie is receiving strong word-of-mouth among customers.

“I thought $75 million was the number, but be prepared for the social media onslaught of positivity for the film to pump up the grosses particularly on Saturday when families will come out in droves,” he said. “Great reviews, a great release date and great social media buzz will make Mowgli very very happy.”

MGM-New Line’s comedy sequel “Barber Shop: The Next Cut” should also generate solid business in its opening weekend with at least $25 million at 2,661 sites. It scored $735,000 in Thursday night showings.

Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Jazsmin Lewis, Sean Patrick Thomas and Eve have been in all three films with Common, Regina Hall and Nicki Minaj joining “The Next Cut.” MGM oversaw production and Warner Bros. is handling distribution. Critics have shown strong support with a 93% Rotten Tomatoes score.

The fourth weekend of “Batman v Superman” and Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss” will battle for third place in the $11 million to $13 million range. Warner Bros.’ superhero clash topped $300 million in the U.S. on Wednesday along with the $500 million mark internationally. It’s dropping more than 500 U.S. locations to about 3,500.

Lionsgate’s debut of its thriller “Criminal” is projected to open moderately in the $7 million to $9 million range in 2,683 locations as Kevin Costner stars as a death row inmate who’s implanted with a dead CIA agent’s memories so he can finish an assignment. Critics have been unimpressed, contributing to the film’s 24% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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