Jon M. Chu's action bonanza G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened to a solid $10.5 million on Thursday to easily top the domestic box office chart.
The sequel -- with a cast led by franchise newcomers Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis -- is hoping to post a four-day North American debut in the $45 million range. The pic earned a promising A- CinemaScore, indicating strong word of mouth.
Still, Retaliation won't match the $54.7 million domestic opening of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but that film was released during the summer play period in early August 2009. The film (earning a B+ CinemaScore) ultimately took in $150.2 million domestically and $152.3 million internationally for a total $302.5 million.
Retaliation also is opening in most international markets (75 percent) and is anticipating a global opening in the $100 million range. Paramount financed and produced the film with MGM and Skydance Productions in association with Hasbro. Producers are Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Brian Goldner.
D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce and Ray Stevenson also star.
Retaliation originally was set to open last summer, but the studio pushed back the release in order to convert it to 3D and refashion Channing Tatum's role. Originally, his character was killed off, but after the star's box-office status surged thanks to The Vow and 21 Jump Street, Paramount and its partners decided to make the character's fate more ambiguous.
Paramount already is anticipating that Retaliation will hit $200 million internationally, notably more than the original.
The studio says it minimized its risk overall by keeping Retaliation's budget to roughly $130 million; Cobra cost at least $175 million. Paramount put up half the money for the sequel, while MGM and David Ellison's Skydance each put up a 25 percent share.
Easter weekend can be a strong frame for moviegoing, particularly on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Opening Good Friday are writer-director Tyler Perry's Temptation -- a marked departure from the filmmaker's comedic fare -- and director Andrew Niccol's sci-fi thriller The Host, adapted from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's novel. Each is expected to open in the $15 million-to-$20 million range.