BOX OFFICE: “Downton Abbey” blows up, and in a good way — $33 million opening weekend

DOWNTON ABBEY

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As I said Thursday, pre-sales of “Downton Abbey” opening weekend tickets suggested a much MUCH bigger opening than the West Coast experts, working off market research provided by the studio and their own hunches, were saying.

Variety, Deadline and Box Office Mojo were all about the $22 million opening they were sure was coming. Noooo. Bottom end of expectations, I thought.

Packed screenings at a theater where I was catching “Rambo” pointed to this, too. A sea of mostly AARP age white women — but plenty of younger faces too– milling in the foyer, waiting for the many showings that were packed into that multiplex.

And here we are, Saturday AM, after a decent Thursday night and a HUGE Friday, “Downton Abbey” is on track to do a whopping, Focus Features record $33 million at the box office.

That, for the math-averse, is 50% above projections. Either Focus was lowballing expectations and others fell for it, or this is going to be a surprise blockbuster, at least for a week or two.

Think there’ll be another sequel? This hints that the movie could make $75-100, depending on its legs. Maybe it’ll encourage repeat viewings (I mean, it’s pandering and a bit of an eye-roller, but fans will feel served, for sure).

“Ad Astra” is surpassing “Rambo: Last Blood” with perhaps as high as a $20 million opening, although word of mouth could push that down to $18-19.

Nothing will help Sly Stallone’s gory, Trumpist “Rambo: Last Blood” gun fetishist’s delight. $17 million, maybe. Big for Lionsgate, no reason to ever make another of these after that.

“Hustlers” spent the week beating “It Chapter 2,” pretty much every day, and may edge it for the weekend as well — $teens for both of them.

A PBS TV show, a strippers get even dramedy and a Stephen King sequel are leading Hollywood out of the box office doldrums.

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