B.O. Update: Tropic Thunder Grabs an Estimated $7.5M on Opening Day

It appears that the Ben Stiller-directed Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) has opened about 40 percent off the day one number for Sony’s Pineapple Express last Wednesday. Early estimates show that the wild, movie-within-a-movie R-rated comedy has scored a solid, but less than meteoric midweek opening of $7.5M or so.

My industry sources are telling me that this picture will play differently than Pineapple Express. Frankly, the marijuana party crowd-fueled Express‘ big Wednesday of $12M, then the film dropped 50 percent on Thursday, recovered for just under $8M on Friday, was down slightly on Saturday to $7.6M and scored a near-identical Sunday. Tropic Thunder will likely follow a more traditional model.

With Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Tom Cruise in tow and an excellent Rotten Tomatoes score of 80 percent+, Tropic Thunder will play older than Express. It seems that Thunder will be down a less dramatic percentage on Thursday to about $5M before bouncing up to a possible $8.5M Friday, a potential 20 percent bump on Saturday to $10.2M and a dip of 20 percent on Sunday to $8.2M. There is obviously some guesswork here, but this seems like a solid theory.

If the film plays out this way, the 5-day will be right on $40M (I predicted $45M on Tuesday) and the traditional three-day will be about $27M (up from my early week prediction of $25M). That will still be enough for Tropic Thunder to win the three-day with Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros), trailing at $18M-$21M and fellow WB title The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) slipping to No. 3 at $15M-$18M.

The buzz for Tropic Thunder is solid, and there is not a lot of competition in the next couple of weeks, so the film will have legs. With a $40M five-day, the raucous comedy should have no trouble topping $100M domestic.