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'Kong' vs. 'Logan': Monkey business beats out the Wolverine

'Kong' vs. 'Logan': Monkey business beats out the Wolverine
A scene from the Warner Bros. release "Kong: Skull Island." (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Fangs and hairy, chest-pounding fists took the lead over razor-sharp claws on Friday as "Kong: Skull Island" roared out of the gate with an opening day estimated box-office take of $20.23 million, nearly double the amount logged at the outset of the second weekend in release for the latest Marvel Comics big-screen venture, "Logan."

Fox's "Logan," starring Hugh Jackman in what's being widely touted as his final appearance as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, posted $10.38 million on Friday, having racked up a whopping $88 million in its first three days last weekend. Friday's results for "Logan" pushed its eight-day take just north of $125 million.

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Early projections for Warner Bros.' reboot of the King Kong franchise, which dates back to the original 1933 stop-action animation classic pitting actress Fay Wray against a gargantuan ape in the retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fable, put its first weekend in the $45-million to $50-million range.

But on the strength of Friday's results, BoxOfficeMojo.com reported that it now may be headed higher, possibly in the $52-million-to-$55-million ballpark.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' star-studded "Kong: Skull Island," featuring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly, is in significantly fewer theaters (3,846) than "Logan" (4,071).

"The main problem they [at Warner Bros.] have is 'Logan' doing so well," FBR & Co. analyst Barton Crockett, who follows box-office trends, told The Times earlier this week. "People will be deciding whether they want to see Wolverine or the ape."

So far, the tragically misunderstood 800,000-pound (give or take a ton) gorilla in the room still has considerable star power in movie theaters 84 years after making his silver screen debut.

Big-budget "King Kong" remakes — in 1976 with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange, and director Peter Jackson's 2005 epic iteration with Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody — have helped keep the plus-sized simian in vogue with new generations of moviegoers across the decades.

Universal's low-budget horror film "Get Out," which cost only $5 million to make, remained strong in placing third behind "Logan" in its third week in theaters. An estimated gross Friday of $6 million would bring its 15-day total to just under $96 million.

Rounding out the Top 5, according to BoxOfficeMojo, were "The Shack," the spiritually minded Lionsgate/Summit film starring Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer that posted an estimated $2.65 million on Friday, and Warner Bros.' "The Lego Batman Movie," with an estimated $1.7 million that ups its 29-day gross to $152.9 million.

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