With the exception of a couple of superhero movies earlier in the summer, the summer block buster has been struggling, but “The Wolverine” is looking to end the losing run for big budget films.
Marvel and 20th Century Fox’s newest superhero film earned a strong $4 million on its opening night in North America, which began at 10 p.m. Thursday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, early audience tracking shows the movie opening in the $65 million-plus range domestically. The Los Angeles Times is predicting numbers in $75 million to $80 million range. The numbers are even stronger overseas, where it is rolling out in a slew of markets coinciding with the North American launch.
Fox spent just under $120 million on “Wolverine,” a pretty good number for a superhero movie.
Other more expensive block busters that have come out this summer such as, The Lone Ranger,” “After Earth, “and “R.I.P.D.” have not had the turnout expected and received harsh critic reviews, but superhero films have continued to keep audiences entertained. Two of the top grossing films since May are “Iron Man 3” and the Superman reboot “Man of Steel.” (“Despicable Me 2″ just recently beat out “Man of Steel,” but Gru can also be considered a superhero right?) Hollywood.com reports that movie attendance is down about three percent this year, while ticket sales are off about one percent.
“The Wolverine” was directed by James Mangold (“3:10 To Yuma”, “Walk the Line”) and stars Hugh Jackman returning to his role as the Wolverine—also known as Logan. It starts off some time after the events of “X-Men the Last Stand.” Logan is in turmoil from having killed Jean Grey and has decided to live alone in the woods. However, he’s pulled back into the superhero world when a Japanese man he saved during WWII requests to see him on his deathbed. The man offers Logan the opportunity to give up immortality and save him from death in exchange. He also asks that Logan protect his granddaughter.
Jackman first played the clawed mutant in 2000’s “X-Men.” The film went on to gross nearly $300 million worldwide and prompted studios to take on more films based on comic books. His character appeared in subsequent “X-Men” sequels, but Wolverine first took center stage in the 2009 spinoff “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Unfortunately, neither fans nor critics enjoyed Logan’s first solo appearance. Luckily, the new film is already faring much better. “The Wolverine” has a 67 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 80 percent fan rating thus far.
Jackman will also be featured in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which is set for release next summer. It will be his seventh time playing Logan.