Just a few days ago, Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" looked nearly as troubled as "The Lone Ranger."
What a difference a week makes.
Buoyed by a surge of social media interest, positive word of mouth and favorable reviews, the $190-million monster movie is off to a stronger-than-expected start at the box office. In screenings Thursday night, "Pacific Rim" grossed an estimated $3.6 million, Warner Bros. said Friday.
That roughly matches the early showings of "World War Z," which ended up grossing $66.4 million in its debut weekend last month.
Warners said the movie about giant, human-controlled robots battling massive sea creatures also enjoyed a good opening in South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.
"Pacific Rim" still has its work cut out for it. Early estimates suggested the film could gross as little as $35 million in its opening weekend, and would likely trail the debut of the critically slammed "Grown Ups 2" and the holdover "Despicable Me 2."
In the coming weeks, "Pacific Rim" also must fend off "Red 2," "The Conjuring," "2 Guns" and "Elysium."
In encouraging news on Thursday morning, ticket-seller Fandango said that the sci-fi action flick accounted for more than 60% of the site's weekend sales, placing it ahead of where "World War Z" was at the same point in the sales cycle.
Friday morning, the ticket seller added that "Pacific Rim" was leading the weekend with 31% of daily sales, narrowly ahead of "Despicable Me 2" and "Grown Ups 2."
Del Toro said at the film's Hollywood premiere earlier this week that he was not concerned with audience tracking surveys showing the movie was in trouble.
“I’m not a guy that plays inside baseball,” the Mexican-born filmmaker said of his picture’s financials. “My responsibility as a director is to be fiscally responsible and deliver a movie under budget and under schedule. I think we have an amazing movie -- one I’ve seen connect with an audience like crazy. So it’s anyone’s guess what happens.”