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George Clooney’s ‘Hail, Caesar!’ Conquers $543,000 at Thursday Box Office

”Pride and Prejudice and Zombies“ and ”The Choice“ are also opening this weekend

“Hail, Caesar!” conquered $543,000 from 1,815 theaters screening previews of the George Clooney movie on Thursday night.

The Coen Brothers film, boasting a stellar cast including Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes and Jonah Hill, had a budget of $22 million and was tracking in the low teens heading into the weekend. It’s the best reviewed new release, with a 78 percent “fresh” approval rating from critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Hail, Caesar!” chronicles the chaos that arises at a movie studio in the Golden Age of Hollywood after the town’s biggest star (Clooney) is kidnapped during a major production.

Sony’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” slashed its way to $300,000 at the previews.. The horror movie based on the book of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, who parodied Jane Austen‘s famous novel, cost the studio $28 million to produce, and is expected to bring in $8 million for the weekend.

Lily James (“Cinderella”) takes the lead alongside supporting actors Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Sally Phillips, Suki Waterhouse and Charles DanceCritical reception has not been favorable, though, as it stands with a mere 43 percent approval rating from critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes.

Nicholas Sparks‘ latest on-screen adaptation, “The Choice” will offer a box office alternative to the Super Bowl this weekend, as well, and grossed $290,000 at the Thursday night previews.

Starring Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker in the lead roles of the romantic movie, the film was tracking to mid-to-upper single-digit millions heading into the weekend, based on a $10 million budget. This is Sparks’ 11th film adaptation of his famous tear-jerker novels, currently holding a meager score of 9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Kung Fu Panda 3,” DreamWorks’ latest installment in the franchise, is looking to make somewhere in the $20 million range in its second weekend at the box office after having grossed $41 million during its debut.

However, the true winner of this weekend will be the Super Bowl, which is looking to crush both the newcomers and “Kung Fu Panda 3” in box office revenue.

Come Sunday, most movies will be impacted by the NFL championship game, in which the Carolina Panthers face the Denver Broncos. “Hail, Caesar!” is looking to win at the Friday night box office, while “Kung Fu Panda 3” will regain the throne on Saturday — until kickoff at 3:30 p.m. PST.

“It’s about getting the biggest bang for their buck before the Super Bowl kicks in,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at comScore, had told TheWrap on Tuesday.

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