‘Downton Abbey’ Lording Over ‘Rambo,’ ‘Ad Astra’ With Big $31M-Plus Bow

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The big-screen continuation of the hit British TV series is opening well ahead of expectations. Lord Grantham and the rest of the Crawley family are holding court over the competition at the Friday box office in a major way, according to early returns.

Downton Abbey, the big-screen continuation of the hit British series, is on course to gross a stellar $14 million to $15 million Friday from 3,079 theaters, including $2.1 million in Thursday previews, for a projected domestic debut of $31 million to $35 million. This is well ahead of expectations and one of the best openings in recent years for a TV-to-movie adaptation outside of the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises.

It’s also the biggest opening ever for specialty distributor Focus Features. The adult-skewing drama will easily beat the other two new offerings, Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: Last Blood and James Gray’s Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt. Heading into the weekend, the race was expected to be close between Downton Abbey and Rambo.

In another surprise twist, Ad Astra — buoyed by a high-profile debut at the Venice Film Festival and its A-list star — could also end up beating Rambo. The space thriller is on course to gross $7 million Friday from 3,460 theaters, including $1.5 million in Thursday previews, for an estimated $18.5 million weekend, if not more.

Rambo looks to gross $6 million to $7 million Friday from 3,618 locations for a $16.5 million to $18 million weekend, on the lower end of expectations.

While Rambo, Downton Abby and Ad Astra couldn’t be more different in scope, they are all vying for older adults (think upward of age 40, as well as consumers 55 and older).

Downton Abbey opens more than three years after creator Julian Fellowes’ ITV and PBS series ended in 2016 and continues the saga of the high-born Crawley family in the year 1927 as King George V and Queen Mary prepare to visit their famous Yorkshire estate. Focus Features is distributing the film in the U.S., with parent studio Universal handling overseas duties (series producer Carnival Films is owned by NBCUniversal).

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