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Box Office: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note.

Sony-Marvel’s latest output is launching to $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates place that number at $35.5 million. The animated superhero story picked up $12.6 million on Friday, easily leading the pack for the weekend.

The film, which takes place in the shared “Spider-Verse,” follows a Brooklyn youth (Shameik Moore) who becomes one of many Spider-Men that must battle the villain Kingpin. “Spider-Verse” also features the voices of Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn with Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn and Liev Schreiber. The pic has a 97% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes after earning rave reviews, and an A+ CinemaScore.

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman directed from a screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman from a story by Lord based on the Marvel Comics. Lord and his creative partner Chris Miller also produce.

Landing in second place is Clint Eastwood’s latest, “The Mule,” which is eyeing $17 million from 2,588 domestic sites. The crime film scored $5.85 million on Friday. Eastwood stars as a horticulturalist and Korean War veteran who becomes a mule for a drug cartel after facing financial ruin. Bradley Cooper, Lawrence Fishburne, Michael Pena, Dianne Wiest, and Andy Garcia also star, and the Warner Bros. film holds a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and A- CinemaScore.

If estimates hold, “The Mule” will mark Eastwood’s third-largest debut as a director, behind 2000’s “Space Cowboys” with $18 million and 2016’s “Sully” with $35 million. As an actor, it would rank as Eastwood’s second-highest debut, behind “Cowboys” and just ahead of 1993’s “In the Line of Fire,” which took in $15 million in its first weekend.

Two holdovers should score the third and fourth place slots, with “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” heading towards a $12 million sixth frame and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” looking to reel in another $9 million in its fourth weekend. “The Grinch” has amassed $230 million this holiday season, with “Ralph” totaling $146 million.

That leaves the third wide release of the weekend, Universal’s “Mortal Engines,” to drop into fifth with a paltry $8 million from 3,103 North American cinemas. The post-apocalyptic adventure film has a staggeringly long way to profitability with an estimated production budget of $100 million.

Christian Rivers directed the pic from Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh’s script based on Philip Reeve’s novel of the same name.  The film takes place in a world where cites have been mounted with wheels and do battle with each other in the “Great Hunting Ground” of continental Europe and Great Britain. Hugo Weaving stars, along with Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, and Ronan Raftery. “Mortal Engines” has a B- CinemaScore and an unfortunate 28% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox’s “Once Upon a Deadpool” descended into 1,566 theaters on Wednesday, and is headed for an estimated $2.3 million for the weekend, after taking in $740,000 on Friday. The PG-13 reimagining of “Deadpool” features Ryan Reynolds’ titular character reading the story to Fred Savage, “Princess Bride”-style, and leaving out the scarier parts.

Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” continues to make a splash overseas ahead of its domestic release on Dec. 21, with an international cume now at $179.1 million. It’s estimated to have earned another $27 million from 43 markets on Friday. Top earners include China, with $12.4 million in its second weekend in release, Mexico with $1.6 million, and Russia with $1.4 million.

Annapurna is debuting Barry Jenkins’ awards contender “If Beale Street Could Talk” at four locations this weekend. The romantic drama, which follows a woman (KiKi Layne) who struggles to clear the name of her wrongfully charged husband (Stephan James) before their child is born, earned $81,575 on Friday. It was recently nominated for three Golden Globes, including best motion picture – drama, best actress in a supporting role for any motion picture for Regina King, and best screenplay for a motion picture.

Also at the specialty box office is IFC Films’ controversial pic, “The House That Jack Built,” which lands in 33 theaters. The psychological horror film from Lars Von Trier follows Matt Dillon as a serial killer, and tracks his life over 12 years in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s polarized critics for its portrayal of extreme violence against women and children, and prompted walkouts when it debuted at Cannes.

Sony Classics’ “Capernaum” will see its limited release this weekend at three theaters. Nadine Labaki’s drama won the Jury Prize at Cannes and received a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign language film.

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