‘Blade Runner 2049’ on Track for Soft $35 Million Opening

Despite critic and audience praise, the sci-fi sequel is falling well short of expectations

Though it has enjoyed strong critical reception and a thumbs up from early audiences, Warner Bros./Alcon’s “Blade Runner 2049” is pacing for a surprisingly poor opening weekend at the box office, looking at a $35-36 million debut after taking in $12.7 million from 4,058 screens on Friday.

Before the weekend, trackers estimated the Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi noir sequel would pull in much more solid $45-50 million in its opening, with some analysts telling TheWrap there was a chance  could beat that target.

A $45 million opening would have put the film on the same start as 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” another long-awaited sequel to an ’80s franchise that had critical acclaim.

Instead, “2049” is looking at an opening comparable to that of “Alien: Covenant,” which opened to $36 million and only grossed $74 million domestically against a $97 million budget.

“2049” has a reported budget of $150 million, with Columbia Pictures co-financing the film with Alcon and handling international distribution.

Critically, “Blade Runner 2049” has been as well received as the 1982 original, currently holding an 89 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and an A- on CinemaScore. But the audience poll mostly consists of older male audiences who likely saw the original film in theaters. Opening night demographics were 71 percent male and 63 percent above the age of 35.

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In a close race for second place are this week’s other two new releases, Lionsgate’s “My Little Pony: The Movie” and Fox/Chernin’s “The Mountain Between Us.”

The animated “My Little Pony” currently has the edge, as it is expected to hit its tracker target of $10 million from 2,528 screens.

The Idris Elba-Kate Winslet survival drama “The Mountain Between Us,” which is being released on 3,088 screens, is underperforming slightly with an estimated $9-10 million opening after pre-weekend projections of $11-13 million.

Both films have earned an A- on CinemaScore, with “My Little Pony” scoring 57 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and “Mountain” scoring 46 percent.

In fourth is New Line’s “It,” with an estimated $9.4 million. In its fourth weekend, the hit will become the fourth R-rated film and the first R-rated horror film to gross over $300 million domestically.

Completing the top five is Universal’s Tom Cruise drama “American Made,” which is taking a 50 percent drop-off with an estimated $8.5 million its second weekend.