Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb earned $491,000 from 2,531 locations in late-night shows Thursday. The family film, starring Ben Stiller, is the third in the museum-exhibits-come-to-life franchise, and will likely earn $25 million-plus in its debut.
Directed by Shawn Levy, the PG film should see bigger business over the weekend and into the holiday week as kids and families have free time to head to theaters.
Secret of the Tomb marks one of the final film appearances for both Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney, who died in 2014. Owen Wilson, Dan Stevens and Ben Kingsley also star.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian opened in May 2009 to a four-day debut of $70 million over Memorial Day weekend (It earned $54.2 million in the traditional three-day window). It went on to earn $413.1 million worldwide. The first Night at the Museum film debuted to $30.4 million when it opened in December 2006 on its way to a worldwide tally of $574.8 million.
This weekend's other newcomer for families, Sony's Annie remake, starring Quvenzhane Wallis, earned $360,000 from 2,400 screens Thursday night.
The musical should earn $15 million or slightly more in its U.S. debut. Also starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, Annie is a contemporary adaptation of the musical of the same name, based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie.
Another third film in a trilogy The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which opened Wednesday night, added another $9.96 million Thursday, bringing its current domestic total to $34.4 million. The final installment in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy is on track for a $75 million debut, but could go as high as $80 million as it seems fans are turning out in strong numbers for their last visit to Middle-earth.
Opening in 3,875 U.S. locations this weekend, the New Line and MGM project will top the domestic box office. Internationally, it's opening in Italy, Spain and South Korea, in addition to the 37 markets it hit last weekend.