Director Matthew Vaughn's superspy sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle led all newcomers in Thursday night previews at the domestic box office, and more than doubled the business that its predecessor Kingsman: The Secret Service did in its previews in 2014. Co-written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, The Golden Circle is the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Secret Service, which made an impressive $414.3 million in its global theatrical run three years ago. By all indications, fans are ready for much more Kingsman, and are projected to turn out in droves this weekend for the R-rated action comedy.
The Golden Circle finds the British independent intelligence agency known as the Kingsman teaming up with their U.S. counterparts, The Statesmen, in order to stop a plan by the world's most power drug cartel boss (Julianne Moore). Original Kingsman stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong reprised their respective roles in the sequel, appearing alongside franchise newcomers like Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Channing Tatum, among others.
According to Deadline, The Golden Circle made $3.4 million in Thursday night previews domestically on 3,100 screens. That's a significant jump from the business The Secret Service did in its February 2014, when it took in $1.4 million at 2,569 locations. In addition, The Golden Circle is projected to outgross The Secret Service's opening tally over the weekend, with a take in the $40 million range at 4,003 locations (including IMAX and Premium Large Format screens). By contrast, The Secret Service made $36.2 million in its opening frame, on its way to a final domestic take of $128.2 million.
Also opening this weekend is The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which is projected to make in the $25 million to $30 million range on 4,047 screens. If the estimate holds up, the animated film will be battling it out for second place with the big screen of adaptation of Stephen King's IT, which is also projected to make $25 million to $30 million. IT has effectively dominated the month of September at the domestic box office, earning $232.4 million through Wednesday.
The weekend's other wide opener, the horror thriller Friend Request, is only expected to gross $4 million on 2,569 screens, Deadline reports.
The Golden Circle's opening will be a key to the film's long-term success. Not helping its prospects are the film's meddling reviews, which at current stands at a 52 percent "Rotten" rate on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics were far-more impressed with The Secret Service, which earned a 76 percent "Fresh" rating on the review aggregation website. Apart from battling for box office dollars with the juggernaut IT, The Golden Circle's opponents in the coming weeks include American Made with Tom Cruise next Friday, as well as Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling with the Blade Runner sequel Blade Runner 2049 on October 6.