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Box Office: ‘American Assassin’ Outshoots ‘Mother!’ on Thursday Night

Action-thriller “American Assassin” has launched with a moderate $915,000 at 2,400 North American sites on Thursday night while Jennifer Lawrence’s “Mother!” took in $700,000.

American Assassin,” a joint production between CBS Films and Lionsgate, is expanding to 3,154 locations on Friday amid expectations of a weekend take in the $12 million to $15 million range. The movie, an adaptation of Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name, stars Dylan O’Brien as a CIA black ops recruit trained by a Cold War veteran played by Michael Keaton.

Paramount’s enigmatic horror-thriller “Mother!” is expected to open this weekend at around $11 million at 2,368 venues in the wake of screenings at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. But prospects for “Mother!” may have been muted by the stunning performance of New Line’s horror blockbuster “It” — which will dominate the weekend with at least $50 million in its second frame.

It” will wind up on Sunday with a sensational 10-day total of at least $210 million. On Thursday, “It” took in $7.2 million at 4,103 sites, setting a record for a horror film on that day of the week, for a first-week gross of $158.7 million. Critical support for “It” has been stellar, earning the film an 85% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Mother!” has generated a solid 74% score, and “American Assassin” has a disappointing 41% rating.

Online ticketing service Fandango reported that, as of Thursday, second week sales for “It” are the best the company has seen for any horror movie, and nearly double the second frame receipts of the next closest horror title, “Get Out.”

“American Assassin,” directed by Michael Cuesta, carries a relatively modest $30 million budget. It also features Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar and Taylor Kitsch, whose character wants to start a world war.

The “American Assassin” preview number is similar to 2014’s “John Wick,” which took in $870,000 in previews on its way to a $14.4 million opening weekend.

“Mother!,” helmed by Darren Aronofsky, is also a low-risk proposition with a $33 million price tag. The story involves a married couple, portrayed by Lawrence and Javier Bardem, dealing with two strangers — played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer — at their tranquil country home.

Paramount decided in July to move the “Mother!” release date forward by a month from Oct. 13 but did not offer any explanation at the time.

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