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Box Office: ‘The Post’ Tops Newcomers ‘The Commuter,’ ‘Paddington 2’ on Thursday Night

Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” took in $775,000 at 2,375 North American venues on Thursday night, edging Liam Neeson’s “The Commuter,” which grossed $700,000 at 2,000 sites.

Family comedy “Paddington 2” launched with $325,000 in previews that began at 5 p.m. The preview is similar to the $350,000 Thursday night number for Fox’s “Ferdinand” on Dec. 14. “Ferdinand” went on take $13.4 million in its first weekend and has grossed $72 million domestically in its first four weeks.

The films are battling Sony’s hit “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” at domestic multiplexes for the top spot over the four-day Martin Luther King weekend. “Jumanji” has been leading forecasts with $25 million to $30 million for the holiday period. Taraji P. Henson’s action-thriller “Proud Mary” is also opening at about 2,200 locations on Friday without previews.

Fox is expanding its journalism drama “The Post” to 2,819 sites on Friday after the awards contender brought in $4.3 million from 36 locations in two weeks. Forecasts have been in the $18 million to $20 million range for the four days. Tom Hanks stars as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee with Meryl Streep as publisher Katharine Graham.

The National Board of Review named it the best film of 2017, but it’s been spurned by members of the Directors Guild and Writers Guild, and scored no new nominations this week. “The Post” has an 87% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The preview number for “The Post” is far better than Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” which debuted with $500,000 in previews leading up to a $15.4 million weekend on Oct. 16-18, 2015.

Lionsgate is expanding the action-thriller “The Commuter” to 2,892 North American theaters on Friday. Neeson portrays a train passenger who becomes entwined in a murder conspiracy after meeting a mysterious woman. “The Commuter” has a 53% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The preview number is comparable to Jackie Chan’s “The Foreigner,” which earned $775,000 in previews on its way to a $13.1 million opening weekend on Oct. 13-15. Forecasts place “The Commuter” in the $13 million range for the four days.

Paddington 2” is getting the widest release among the newcomers, with Warner Bros. booking 3,702 venues with forecasts in the $15 million to $18 million range. The studio acquired North American rights to the family comedy in November from The Weinstein Company in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. “Paddington 2,” in which Ben Whishaw voices the titular bear, has already earned $125 million internationally.

“Paddington 2” has been embraced by critics and is currently rated at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The original “Paddington” made $268 million worldwide following its 2014 release.

Sony is launching “Proud Mary” through its Screen Gems label amid forecast in the $13 million to $16 million range. The film was not screened for critics.

Henson plays a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is turned around when she meets a young boy when a professional hit goes wrong. “Proud Mary” also stars Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and Danny Glover.

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has grossed a surprisingly strong $254 million domestically in its first 22 days. The Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart vehicle won the North American box office easily last weekend over Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which has grossed a formidable $580.3 million domestically in 28 days. “The Last Jedi” should wind up the four-day weekend with as much as $15 million.

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