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Box Office: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Fires Off $1.7 Million on Thursday Night

Lionsgate’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has opened with a respectable $1.7 million at 2,600 North American sites on Thursday night.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky” pulled in $525,000 at previews from Thursday previews.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” an R-rated action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, expands to 3,377 locations on Friday. Its preview showings started at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Recent tracking indicates that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” will open in the $15 million to $20 million range during the Friday-Sunday period — which could be enough to top the second weekend of New Line’s “Annabelle: Creation” in what’s expected to be one of the slowest moviegoing frames of the disappointing summer of 2017.

Logan Lucky” is the only other major opening this weekend, with Bleecker Street and Fingerprint Releasing launching the heist comedy at 3,031 domestic locations. Forecasts for “Logan Lucky,” starring Channing Tatum, Riley Keough, and Adam Driver as siblings trying to pull off a massive robbery at the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race, have ranged from $6 million to $12 million for third place.

Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” should finish fourth in its fifth weekend, earning $6 million to $8 million. The World War II epic has been one of the few solid performers of the summer, grossing $158.8 million in four weeks.

In “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” Reynolds plays the titular bodyguard hired to protect a notorious hitman, portrayed by Jackson. The film follows the mismatched duo on a journey from London to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands in order for the hitman to testify against an Eastern European dictator, played by Gary Oldman.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” directed by Patrick Hughes (“The Expendables 3”) from Tom O’Connor’s script, has generated negative reviews, earning a 39% rating on “Rotten Tomatoes.” The budget is $30 million.

“Logan Lucky,” Soderbergh’s first film since 2013’s “Side Effects,” comes into the market with a financial model aimed at providing the director more control over the marketing. The movie, which carries a $29 million budget, has produced positive notices with a current 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

The summer moviegoing season has generated $3.48 billion through Aug. 16, down a stunning 12.7% from the 2016 summer, according to comScore. The pallid performance has dragged the year-to-date number by 4.8% to $7.24 billion amid a string of flops such as “The Mummy,” “The Dark Tower,” “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” and “Baywatch.”

“Annabelle: Creation” conjured $35 million in its opening to dominate an otherwise pallid frame last weekend. The horror sequel took in another $13 million during the next four days.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, notes that mid- to late-August has rarely delivered big hits.

“Most of the bigger performers came from early- to mid-month like ‘Suicide Squad,’ ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ ‘Sausage Party,’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler,’ ‘Superbad,’ ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’ and the original ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,'” he said. “We need to keep in mind that only one film, 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad,’ has ever opened with more than $100 million in August.”

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