Box Office: “Ready Player One” devours Thursday, headed for a huge Easter Weekend

ready1Earlier projections, based on tracking data, had Steven Spielberg’s spin on Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” under-performing at the domestic box office. $40 million was predicted.

The trailers don’t do it eye-candy justice, the endless parade of Easter Eggs, inside jokes piled up for film and game and pop culture fans, can’t be summed up in a single review.

But Thursday night’s opening was a lot better than expected. It did $3.75 million Wednesday night. It earned over $12, maybe over $13 million on just Thursday “previews.” Deadline.com has moved its prediction up to well over $50 million.

As I said yesterday, it has the feel of a broad demographic appeal, four corners hit. Word of mouth is a given, repeat visits will be a must for the crowd it is aimed at.  It’s on over 4200 screens, a HUGE number for a March opening.

I figure $60 million is on the low end of expectations. Not a “Black Panther” sized blockbuster, but in that ballpark. A big Friday will confirm that. Is $70 within reach? $80? I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t.

It’s piling up money overseas, $40 million and counting already.

[Did Netflix scoop “Ready Player One” with its raunchy, game-friendly farce “Game Over, Man?”]

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