8:33am PT by Pamela McClintock
Weekend Box Office: 'Wrinkle in Time' Limps Toward $33M Debut; 'Black Panther' Stays No. 1
Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time — based on Madeleine L'Engle's beloved book and targeting younger girls — is off to a troubled start at the North American box office.
Hobbled by poor word of mouth, the fantasy-adventure grossed $10.2 million on Friday from 3,980 theaters for a weekend debut of $32 million-$33 million, behind expectations. Wrinkle in Time has been rebuffed by most critics, while audiences gave it a mediocre B CinemaScore.
While Wrinkle in Time was able to narrowly beat fellow Disney title Black Panther on Friday, Black Panther will easily win the weekend with $40 million-plus from 3942 locations, one of the best showings of all time for a movie in its fourth outing. (Black Panther grossed $10 million on Friday.)
In another major milestone, the history-making Disney/Marvel superhero film bounded past the $1 billion mark at the global box office on Satuday after landing in its final foreign market, China. Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, is off to a rousing start in the Middle Kingdom, where it boasted an estimated opening-day gross of $22.7 million and another $27 million on Saturday. That's the third or fourth best start for a Marvel superhero pic behind Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Both Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time have been heralded for their diversity, both in front of and behind the camera.
DuVernay is the first black woman to helm a $100 million movie, while Storm Reid plays the heroine at the heart of the story, 13-year-old Meg Murry, who must find her father and save the universe along the way. The star-packed cast also includes Oprah Winfrey, Levi Miller, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine.
A Wrinkle in Time currently has 42 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Three additional movies open nationwide this weekend. Aviron's The Strangers: Prey at Night, a sequel of sorts to The Strangers (2008), is showing the most strength, attracting more than $4 million on Friday from 2,464 theaters for a projected $10 million weekend, good enough for a third-place finish. (The film took in $610,000 in its Thursday night previews.)
The other two new wide arrivals — Amazon Studios and STXfilms' Gringo, a dark comedy starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton, and Entertainment Studios' The Hurricane Heist, directed by Rob Cohen — are already fading fast.
Gringo is expected to place No. 10 with roughly $3 million from 2,404 cinemas, followed by Hurricane Heist with a projected $2.5 million-$3 million from 2,402 locations.
March 9, 1:05 p.m.: Updated to include early Friday estimates.
March 10, 8:15 a.m.: Updated to include Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.