The claws are coming out at movie theaters this weekend, with 20th Century Fox’s Logan poised to carve out a spot atop the domestic box office.
The movie already pulled in $9.5 million in Thursday night previews. (The official release date is March 3.) Various estimates predict that Logan will easily top the box office over the full weekend with domestic ticket sales in the $75 million to $85 million range.
Logan is Fox’s third standalone film focused on the Wolverine character from Marvel Comics’ X-Men series—and the last to feature actor Hugh Jackman, who is hanging up his metal claws roughly 17 years after first playing the mutant superhero. The movie is also something of a departure from the eight other films featuring Jackman as Wolverine because it’s the first of them to have earned an R-rating due to its ramped up violence (as well as strong language and brief nudity).
Major studios are usually reluctant to release a big-budget movie (Logan cost a reported $97 million to make) with an R-rating out of fear that it will lose a large chunk of younger moviegoers.
But Fox set a precedent in that area with the huge box-office success of Deadpool, which grossed a whopping $783 million worldwide despite sporting an R-rating due to excessive violence and crude language. Deadpool could serve as a solid parallel for Logan’s box-office potential considering that both films are based on Marvel Comics characters associated with the X-Men. (Fox is even teasing Deadpool‘s forthcoming sequel before showings of Logan in theaters this weekend.)
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It’s even fair to expect that Logan could easily outpace Deadpool‘s box office grosses considering that Jackman’s Wolverine is a far more recognizable and established superhero character with audiences than Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool was last year. (Though, it’s worth noting, Deadpool did gross a record-breaking $12.7 million in its own Thursday preview showings last year.)
Logan is already a hit with critics. The action movie has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes that easily tops any other new release hitting theaters this weekend.
In fact, the movie most likely to give Logan a run for its money this weekend is the satirical horror film Get Out, which rode its 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes to a Hollywood-best $33.4 million domestic opening last weekend. Get Out is expected to make an additional $22 million in its second weekend in theaters, while the rest of the weekend’s new releases (including faith-based drama The Shack and young-adult book adaptation Before I Fall) are not expected to make much of a splash.
Also competing for moviegoers’ attention this weekend will be Best Picture Academy Award winner Moonlight, which is nearly tripling its footprint by expanding to more than 1,500 theaters for the first weekend following the film’s big Oscar win. Still, the award-winning movie isn’t likely to compete with Logan (which will be in more than 4,000 theaters) as Moonlight has grossed only $22.7 million since its October release.