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Box Office: ‘The Meg’ Swims to $4 Million on Thursday Night

Shark thriller “The Meg” swam to an impressive $4 million on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Sony’s horror movie “Slender Man” launched with $1 million at 2,109 sites in previews. Focus Features did not release numbers for Spike Lee’s crime drama “BlacKkKlansman.”

Warner Bros.’ “The Meg,” starring Jason Statham, has been forecast to finish in the $20 million to $22 million range at 4,118 domestic sites during its opening weekend. That may be enough to take first place away from the third frame of Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” which has hauled a strong $138.6 million domestically in its first 13 days.

“The Meg,” directed by Jon Turteltaub, is based on Steve Alten’s 1997 book, “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror.” The story follows efforts by scientists — played by Statham, Li Bingbing, Winston Chao, and Ruby Rose — to stop a prehistoric 75-foot Megalodon shark from terrorizing a beach in China.

“The Meg” is a co-production with China’s Gravity and carries a $150 million price tag, meaning that the studio is counting on substantial overseas business. The movie is also opening in China, Russia, Spain, and the U.K. this weekend. The Thursday night preview number for “The Meg” was double that of Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper,” which debuted to $24 million in the U.S. and $48 million in China.

“The Meg” opened with an estimated $15 million in China on Friday, giving it third place behind two local comedies.

“The Meg” has received mixed reviews from critics and carries a 51% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The most recent shark movies have generated respectable results, with Sony’s moderately budgeted “The Shallows,” starring Blake Lively, taking in $119 million globally in 2016 and Entertainment Studios’ low-cost “47 Meters Down” grossing $44.3 million last year.

Focus Features’ “BlacKkKlansman,” which won the grand prix at the Cannes Film Festival, is opening at 1,512 locations in North America on the first anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally. Forecasts have pegged it for an opening in the $8 million to $10 million range. Reviews have been exceptionally strong, giving it a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

John David Washington, son of Denzel Washington, stars in “BlacKkKlansman,” which tells the true story of black detective Ron Stallworth going undercover with the help of a Jewish cop (played by Adam Driver) — to infiltrate the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Slender Man” is launching at 2,358 North American venues with forecasts ranging from $8 million to $16 million. Sylvain White directed the supernatural story based on the internet legend of the boogeyman-like creature who traumatizes children. “Slender Man” stars Joey King, Jaz Sinclair, and Julia Goldani Telles. Critics have panned the movie, which carries an 11% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

LD Entertainment launched the romantic comedy “Dog Days” on Wednesday with a quiet $635,164 at 2,225 sites amid modest expectations for the weekend. The film, which centers on the lives of dog owners in Los Angeles, stars Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Lauren Lapkus, Thomas Lennon, Adam Pally, Ryan Hansen, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, and Finn Wolfhard.

Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” could become the first film to finish in first place for three consecutive weekends since “Avengers: Infinity War” did so in April. Disney’s sophomore frame of “Christopher Robin” will likely finish in the $10 million to $15 million range.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said the weekend should keep the overall domestic summer business well above the 2017 season.

“Four new wide releases join an already crowded marketplace as the countdown to the end of summer 2018 continues with an 11% advantage over last year’s lackluster season that unfortunately delivered the worst-performing August in two decades,” he added.

For the year through Aug. 8, total domestic moviegoing is up 7.8% to $7.63 billion, according to comScore.

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