'Wolverine' looking sharp as summer starts

'X-Men' spinoff has earned $35 mil since midnight Thursday

Fox's Hugh Jackman starrer "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" didn't need to claw its way to No. 1 over the first day of the summer boxoffice season.

A spinoff of Fox's lucrative "X-Men" franchise, "Wolverine" easily topped the daily rankings Friday with an estimated $35 million in its first day of release. The tally included almost $5 million rung up from more than 1,500 performances at midnight Thursday.

Still, with piracy problems imperiling its opening and the swine flu complicating projections for its first weekend, it comes as welcome relief to studio execs that "Wolverine" remains likely to register upward of $80 million through Sunday. That was the consensus forecast headed into the weekend, and its Friday boxoffice seems to bear out that projection.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" -- the second and most recent "X-Men" sequel -- stands as the franchise's top grosser. "Last Stand" bowed in May 2006 with $122.9 million and grossed $234.4 million overall domestically.
Elsewhere among this weekend's wide openers, Warner Bros.' romantic comedy "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" -- starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner -- registered $5.8 million Friday. That was the second highest total of the day.

And Roadside Attractions' Lionsgate-distributed "Battle for Terra" -- a sci-fi animated feature with a voice cast topped by Dennis Quaid -- fetched just $255,000 Friday, in 12th place among the daily rankings. The PG-rated pic is expected to draw primarily young boys with parents in tow and should turn in more respectable numbers once the weekend's matinees kick in.
Last weekend's No. 1 opener -- Sony's Beyonce Knowles starrer "Obsessed" -- attracted $4.1 million in third place on Friday, or a big 63% less than its daily tally from a week earlier.

Warners' Zac Efron starrer "17 Again" registered a fourth-best tally of $2 million in Friday coin, yielding a $44.1 million cume through three weekends.