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Evading the curse that has plagued many a Western, Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven earned a promising $12.7 million Friday, putting the star-studded movie on course to earn $35.5 million in its debut for an easy first-place finish at the North American box office, according to early projections.
The film, grabbing an A- CinemaScore from audiences, is on pace to score one of the biggest domestic openings ever for a Western — if not the biggest, not accounting for inflation. The current record-holder for a live-action Western is Cowboys & Aliens ($36.4 million). But if counting animated offerings, Rango is the champ with $38.1 million.
Magnificent Seven, from MGM and Sony, is a remake of the classic 1960 Western, which in turn was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Village Roadshow and LStar Capital helped co-finance the $90 million film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.
The movie stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio. Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard round out the cast. To date, Washington’s biggest opening is 2007’s American Gangster ($43.6 million) followed by 2012’s Safe House ($40.2 million).
Thursday night, Magnificent Seven grossed $1.8 million in previews before rolling out in a total of 3,674 theaters on Friday.
The weekend’s other new nationwide offering is Warner Bros.’ animated family film Storks, which is looking at a second-place finish after earning $5.7 million Friday from 3,922 theaters for a projected $21 million-$22 million weekend, a modest start for the film, which likewise earned an A- CinemaScore.
Storks, produced for roughly $70 million by Warner Animation Group, was directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland. The voice cast includes Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell and Danny Trejo.
In recent decades, Warners hasn’t been a big player in the animation space, although 2014’s The Lego Movie was a box-office sensation.
Warners will also lay claim to the No. 3 spot with Clint Eastwood’s box-office hit Sully, the adult drama starring Tom Hanks. The movie looks to decline just 37 percent in its third weekend to nearly $14 million for a domestic total through Sunday of more than $92 million.
Bridget Jones’s Baby looks to fall 48 percent in its second outing to $4.4 million for a disappointing 10-day North American cume of $16.4 million (the film is doing far better overseas). The romantic comedy is holding at No. 4, followed by Blair Witch with an estimated $4 million weekend.
New offerings at the specialty box office include Disney’s Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair and starring Madina Nalwanga as real-life Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi. David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o also star.
Queen of Katwe premiered at TIFF is only opening in 52 theaters this weekend before expanding nationwide Sept. 30. Disney partnered with ESPN on the film, which hopes to be an awards contender. Katwe earned $82,000 Friday for a projected weekend gross of $297,000 and location average of roughly $5,700.
Sept. 24, 7:40 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised weekend numbers.
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