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‘Ready Player One’ Headed to $53 Million Box Office Opening

Steven Spielberg’s video game thrill ride is getting good word of mouth

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is off to a decent start at the box office this Easter weekend, making $15.2 million from 4,234 screens on Friday to put the Warner Bros./Village Roadshow production on course for a $53 million four-day weekend.

That result is on the upper end of wildly varied pre-weekend projections from trackers. With a reported budget of $175 million, Spielberg’s latest film still has a long way to go before it can turn a profit.

The good news is that it has positive word of mouth on its side. The film has a 76 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, and made waves on social media when it received a standing ovation at SXSW earlier this month.

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an A- grade, with male millennials giving it the highest grade average while female and older audiences gave it an average of B+. Opening night crowds were 59 percent male and 68 percent under the age of 35.

“Ready Player One” will need that word of mouth to carry over into strong returns for the next few weeks to make the film profitable. The film is also getting a boost from solid returns in international markets this weekend, including a strong $48 million start in China.

In second place is “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” from Lionsgate, which is looking at a start slightly above expectations with $16 million from 2,006 screens.

Tyler Perry’s rabid fan base has made his films resilient to critics, earning an A- on CinemaScore against a 25 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. This should lead to a strong multiple for the low-budget thriller and a stronger result for lead star Taraji P. Henson, whose last film, “Proud Mary,” only made $20.8 million back in January.

“Black Panther” is in third, earning $4 million on its seventh Friday, bound for an $11 million Easter weekend. That will be enough to push the film’s domestic total to $650 million, and poised to pass the $652 million gross of “Jurassic World” for the No. 4 spot on the all-time domestic charts early this coming week.

In fourth is Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions’ “I Can Only Imagine,” which continues to win over Christian moviegoers with an estimated $10 million in its third weekend. That would be just a 25 percent drop from last weekend and would give the $7 million film a $55 million domestic total.

Completing the top five is Universal/Legendary’s “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” which is taking a hard 67 percent fall from its $28 million opening for a $9.3 million second weekend.

Meanwhile, Pure Flix’s “God’s Not Dead: A Light In Darkness” is looking at a $3 million opening from 1,693 theaters, putting it outside the top 10. By comparison, the first “God’s Not Dead” made a $9.2 million start in 2014, while its 2016 sequel opened to $7.6 million.