'Wolverine' starts strong at midnight

Fox film rakes in at least $4.5 mil

Fox appears to have a good jump on the weekend opening for its Hugh Jackman starrer "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which registered at least $4.5 million in midnight Thursday performances in the U.S. and Canada.

The studio was still culling through preliminary data Friday afternoon, and the witching-hour's tally may run as high as $5 million when finalized. Though hardly a record, that should offer some comfort to anyone at Fox still worrying whether the pricey tentpole will be hampered by lost business from a pirated copy of an early version of the film that's been circulated widely over the Internet.

Studio execs suggested they will be happy with a domestic haul anywhere north of $70 million through Sunday. Prerelease tracking seemed to indicate an opening of $80 million-plus.

"Wolverine" also launches in 101 international territories this weekend – the first frame in the summer boxoffice season.
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