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Box Office: ‘Hidden Figures’ Takes $1.2 Million in Thursday Night Expansion

Fox’s historical comedy-drama “Hidden Figures” took in a solid $1.2 million from 2,250 new locations on Thursday night previews as it expands into wide release.

Hidden Figures,” centered on a group of female African-American mathematicians and scientists in the early days of America’s space program, has been performing well in limited release. It had grossed $2.9 million from only 25 locations since Dec. 25.

“Hidden Figures” has been forecast to pull in between $16 million to $18 million this weekend as it moves to 2,471 locations Friday. The awards season contender has a modest $25 million budget with a cast including Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Kevin Costner. Pharrell Williams wrote several new songs for the movie.

Henson plays math genius Katherine Johnson with Spencer playing Dorothy Vaughan and Monae as Mary Jackson. The trio helped NASA start catching up to the Russians in the space race with John Glenn becoming the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of Earth in 1962.

Spencer is contending in the supporting actress category at Sunday’s Golden Globes and for the SAG Awards. The cast snagged an ensemble nomination for the SAG Awards and the screenplay, adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, received a nomination this week from the Writers Guild of America for Allison Schroeder and director Ted Melfi.

Producers are Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping through Chernin Entertainment, Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films,  Melfi and Williams.

Holiday season holdovers “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Sing” will be in a tight race for first place this weekend with each film  projected to gross about $25 million. Disney-Lucasfilms’ “Rogue One,” currently at 4,157 locations, has grossed $451.4 million domestically after 20 days in theaters and trails only “Finding Dory” at $468 million among 2016 releases.

Illumination-Universal’s animated comedy “Sing,” playing at 3,941 sites, has generated an impressive $190 million domestically in its 15 days.

Sony’s “Underworld: Blood Wars,” the fifth entry in the franchise, is opening at 3,065 sites through the Screen Gems label with a forecast of a $15 million debut. The franchise has racked up more than $500 million globally with Kate Beckinsale returning to the Selene vampire role in the new installment, directed by Anna Foerster.

Lionsgate’s awards contender “La La Land” will also be in the mix this weekend as it doubles its location count to 1,515. The musical comedy-drama, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, showed plenty of drawing power during the four-day New Year’s weekend with $12.6 million at only 750 sites. It’s already crossed the $40 million mark in domestic grosses since its Dec. 9 opening.

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