The Hollywood Reporter -- Getting an early jump on Easter weekend, filmmaker Jon M. Chu's action bonanza G.I. Joe: Retaliation began rolling out late Wednesday night in North America, grossing a promising $2.2 million.
Tracking suggests the sequel -- with a cast led by franchise newcomers Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis -- will post a four-day domestic debut in the $40 million to $45 million range, although Paramount believes there's a chance of hitting $50 million.
Retaliation is also opening in most international markets (75 percent) and is anticipating a global opening in the $100 million range. Paramount financed and produced the film with MGM and Skydance Productions in association with Hasbro.
Retaliation originally was set to open last summer, but the studio pushed back the release in order to convert it to 3D and refashion Channing Tatum's role. Originally, his character was killed off, but after the star's box-office status surged thanks to The Vow and 21 Jump Street, Paramount and its partners decided to make the character's fate more ambiguous.
Unless it overperforms, Retaliation won't match the $54.7 million domestic opening of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but that film was released during the summer play period in early August 2009. The film ultimately took in $150.2 million domestically and $152.3 million internationally for a total $302.5 million.
Paramount already is anticipating that Retaliation will hit $200 million internationally, notably more than the original.
The studio says it minimized its risk overall by keeping Retaliation's budget to roughly $130 million; Cobra cost at least $175 million. Paramount put up half the money for the sequel, while MGM and David Ellison's Skydance each put up a 25 percent share.
Easter weekend can be a strong frame for moviegoing, particularly on Good Friday and Saturday.
Opening on Good Friday are writer-director Tyler Perry's Temptation -- a marked departure from the filmmaker's comedic fare -- and director Andrew Niccol'ssci-fi thriller The Host, adapted from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's novel. Each is expected to open in the $15 million-to-$20 million range.
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Find more online: THR.com
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