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Box Office: ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Battles to $2.4 Million on Thursday Night

Sci-fi action tentpole “Pacific Rim Uprising” has opened with a solid $2.4 million at 2,850 North American locations on Thursday night.

Universal-Legendary’s “Pacific Rim Uprising” — the sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 “Pacific Rim” — has been forecast to score between $22 million and $29 million as it expands to 3,708 locations at this weekend’s domestic box office. That will probably be enough to surpass Disney-Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther” following its stellar five-week reign at the top of the U.S. box office.

The original “Pacific Rim” — set in the near future and starring Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Charlie Hunnam — opened with $3.6 million in Thursday night previews on its way to a debut of $37 million domestically and wound up with $101.8 million. It went on to gross $411 million at the worldwide box office, led by $112 million in China.

“Pacific Rim Uprising” is set 10 years after the Battle of the Breach, with a new generation of Jaeger pilots ready to combat the evolving Kaiju monsters. John Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Elba’s character Stacker Pentecost, who sacrificed his life in the first film. Steven S. DeKnight co-wrote and directed “Pacific Rim Uprising” on a reported $150 million budget.

“Pacific Rim Uprising” has scored mixed reviews from critics with a current 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  The film is also opening this weekend in most international markets including China.

Black Panther” should score around $15 million to $18 million at 3,834 locations, which would be among the top 10 highest-earning sixth weekends of all time. With a $614 million total in its first five weeks, it’s poised to pass “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “The Avengers” this weekend to become the fifth-highest on that list, trailing only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Avatar,” “Titanic” and “Jurassic World.”

The opening of Paramount Pictures and MGM’s animated comedy “Sherlock Gnomes” will likely be battling “Black Panther” for second place, with forecasts in the range of $13 million to $18 million at 3,662 theaters. The family-friendly film, a sequel to 2011’s “Gnomeo & Juliet,” did not hold Thursday night previews.

Another animated film, Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “Isle of Dogs,” is opening in limited release in 27 theaters this weekend before expanding nationwide in the following weekends. Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated film is set in a dystopian futuristic Japan where dogs have been quarantined on a remote island. “Isle of Dogs” carries a 92% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The second weekends of Alicia Vikander’s “Tomb Raider” and faith-based drama “I Can Only Imagine” are likely to battle for fourth place in the $10 million to $13 million range.

Three other new films are also opening nationwide this weekend with middling prospects. New indie distributor Global Road Entertainment, the successor to Open Road Films, is launching “Midnight Sun” with tracking for the young adult romantic drama at about $5 million at 2,173 theaters. The pic stars Bella Thorne as a teen who has been sheltered at home since childhood due to a life-threatening sensitivity to sunlight.

Sony is launching biblical drama “Paul, Apostle of Christ” through its Affirm Films label with wide-ranging estimates of $2 million to $7.5 million in 1,431 theaters over Palm Sunday weekend. The story follows James Faulkner as Saint Paul in his last days awaiting execution by Emperor Nero in Rome.

Steven Soderbergh’s thriller, “Unsane,” is expected to launch with around $3 million from 2,023 sites with Bleecker Street and Fingerprint handling the release. Claire Foy stars as a bright but troubled business woman who’s being stalked by her ex-boyfriend and inadvertantly winds up in a mental institution.

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