Tom Cruise's crime drama American Made opened to underwhelming box office numbers during its Thursday night preview, indicating that the Matthew Vaughn-directed superspy sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle will take the box office crown this weekend. Following a largely dismal summer movie season, September got off with a bang thanks to the gargantuan success of Stephen King's IT, which reigned supreme at the box office until it was knocked from its perch by the Kingsman sequel last weekend.
Having pulled in $39 million during its opening frame (with IT grossing $29 million for second place), Kingsman: The Golden Circle is now projected to easily beat out both American Made and this weekend's other new wide theatrical releases at the domestic box office.
According to Deadline, The Golden Circle is projected to win the domestic box office with a projected $20 million in ticket sales. Playing on more than 4,000 screens, the Kingsman sequel is expected to handily defeat American Made, which is opening in 3,024 locations.
Deadline says the American Made - which chronicles the dizzying, true-life story of former TWA pilot-turned-CIA-arms runner-turned-drug smuggler Barry Seal - earned $958,000 at 2,455 theaters on Thursday night, making it one of the lowest Thursday night previews in recent times. Rated R, the latest film from Cruise is estimated to gross something in the neighborhood of $15 million during its opening weekend. That may not be enough to beat IT for second place at the box office over the next few days (with the latter expected to take in as much as $16 million).
The projected low turnout will no doubt come as a disappointment to Cruise, whose summer tentpole release The Mummy struggled out of the gate at the domestic box office (though its international box office gross proved to be a saving grace). Perhaps more troubling, American Made - which currently has a "fresh" 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes as opposed to The Mummy's dismal rating - looks to earn only half of The Mummy's opening; putting it in the same company as other Cruise misses like 2012's Rock of Ages (which had a $14.4 million domestic opening).
On the plus side, American Made is expect to gross much more than this weekend's Flatliners. The film, which did not have Thursday night previews, is expected to gross somewhere in the neighborhood of the mid- to high single digits on 2,552 screens. In addition, Emma Stone's and Steve Carell's Battle of the Sexes – which recreates the historic tennis matchup between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs – is expected to pull in $4 million to $5 million domestically, as it expands from 21 to 1,213 locations this weekend.
Deadline pointed out that one possible thing hurting American Made's box office this time around is Cruise's press availability. The actor traditionally goes on a worldwide press tours to promote his films, but his recent leg injury during Mission: Impossible 6 prevented him from a global jaunt this time around. With any luck, Cruise's will get back in step for the next Mission: Impossible adventure, which have tended to fare much better at the box office than his other films nowadays.
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