Box office: ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ battles to $2.4 Million on Thursday night

Science-fiction action tentpole “Pacific Rim Uprising” has opened with a solid $2.4 million at 2,850 North American locations in Thursday night previews.

Universal-Legendary’s “Pacific Rim Uprising” — the sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 “Pacific Rim” — has been forecast to score from $22 million to $29 million as it expands to 3,708 locations at this weekend’s domestic box office. That will probably be enough to surpass Disney-Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther” following its stellar five-week reign at the top of the domestic box office.

The original “Pacific Rim,” set in the near future and starring Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Charlie Hunnam, opened with $37 million domestically in 2013 on its way to $101.8 million. It went on to gross $411 million at the worldwide box office, led by $112 million in China.

“Pacific Rim Uprising” is set 10 years after the Battle of the Breach with a new generation of Jaeger pilots ready to combat the evolving Kaiju monsters. John Boyega plays Jake Pentecost, the son of Elba’s character Stacker Pentecost, who sacrificed his life in the first film. Steven S. DeKnight co-wrote and directed “Pacific Rim Uprising” with a reported $150 million budget.

Black Panther” should score around $15 million to $18 million at 3,834 locations, which would be among the top 10 sixth weekends of all time. With a $612 million total in its first 34 days, it’s poised to pass “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “The Avengers” this weekend to become the fifth-highest on that list.

The opening of Paramount Pictures and MGM’s animated comedy “Sherlock Gnomes” will likely be battling “Black Panther for second place with forecasts in the range of $13 million to $18 million in 3,662 theaters. The family friendly film, a sequel to 2011’s “Gnomeo & Juliet ,” did not hold Thursday night previews.

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