Weekend Box Office: 'Blade Runner 2049' Heads for $43M-$45M U.S. Launch

Elsewhere, 'My Little Pony' looks to come in No. 2, while Idris Elba and Kate Winslet's 'Mountain Between Us' may scale less than $10 million.

Denis Villeneuve's ambitious sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 is winning the Friday box-office race in North America for a projected weekend debut in the $43 million-$45 million range, according to early returns.

That would be on par with another long-gestating sequel, Mad Max: Fury Road, which debuted to $45.4 million in May 2015, but behind such October openings as record-holder Gravity ($55.8 million) and The Martian ($54.3 million).

Playing in 4,058 locations, Blade Runner's projected Friday haul of $17 million-$18 will include $4 million in Thursday evening previews. (Imax theaters turned in $800,000 of the $4 million.)

From Alcon, Warner Bros. and Sony, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic takes place several decades after the original, with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard, the former blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. Ryan Gosling plays LAPD Officer K, who tracks down Deckard to help him take down a new enemy (Jared Leto). The supporting cast includes Dave Bautista, Robin Wright and Ana de Armas.

Blade Runner 2049, garnering strong reviews, will need to do big business on the worldwide stage after costing a net $150 million to produce. The movie, with a hefty running time of 163 minutes, is opening in almost every major international market this weekend, save for China, Japan and South Korea. Mad Max: Fury Road took in $378 million worldwide; Blade Runner 2049 hopes to land $400 million.

Lionsgate and Hasbro's My Little Pony looks to debut in second place with $12 million-$14 million from 2,528 theaters, including a Friday start of $3 million-$4 million. Based on Hasbro's television series and magical pony toy line, the film is voiced by Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Pena, Uzo Aduba, Liev Schreiber, Taye Diggs and Sia.

Fox 2000's drama The Mountain Between Us, starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, is doing less business than expected, and is in a close race for No. 3 with New Line's horror blockbuster It, now in its fifth weekend. Mountain Between Us is tipped to earn $2.5 million-$3.5 million from 3,088 theaters on Friday for a weekend gross of $8 million-$10 million. Heading into the weekend, the Fox 2000 and Chernin Entertainment film was tracking to open to $12 million, already a modest number.

Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, Mountain Between Us follows two travelers who are stranded in the wilderness after surviving a plane crash. Beau Bridges and Dermot Mulroney also star.

Now in its second weekend, Tom Cruise-starrer American Made hopes to edge out The Lego Ninjago Movie and place No. 5.

Elsewhere, Quality Flix releases its dog-centric family film The Stray in 630 theaters. Focus Features’ Victoria and Abdul is rolling out nationwide to 750 theaters after debuting in four theaters last month.

Oct. 6, 12:30 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.