"The Wolverine" showed its steel at the box office on Thursday, racking up a strong $4 million.
That's slightly less than the roughly $5 million the comic-book movie's predecessor, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" took in from its midnight shows when it debuted in 2009. That film went on to make $85 million over its premiere weekend.
Hollywood is counting on the hotly anticipated superhero sequel to lift its box office fortunes after suffering through four straight weeks of big-budget flops like "R.I.P.D.," "The Lone Ranger," "White House Down" and "Pacific Rim." The film is widely expected to dominate the box office this weekend and is projected to open in the $75 million range.
"The Wolverine," marks the first of Fox's Marvel movies to be released in 3D. It carries a production budget of $115 million. The film finds Hugh Jackman's mutant loner in Japan where he takes on the Yakuza and grapples with the loss of his healing powers. Reviews have been strong, with the film scoring a 66 percent "fresh" rating on the critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
After opening on Thursday in select locations, "The Wolverine" will expand to 3,924 theaters, of which 3,063 are in 3D.
Last week's first place movie, the low-budget horror film "The Conjuring," will likely claim the second slot at the box office rankings, pulling in roughly $20 million over the three days.