As the only major wide release of the weekend, The Wolverine doesn't exactly have a lot of competition going into the weekend box office, but fans of the berserker rage still might be relieved by the early news about ticket sales. According to Fandango The Wolverine makes up 51% of the tickets currently beings sold on their site, and even more importantly, it's ahead of where X-Men: First Class was at this point in its release by a significant 39%. That new addition to the X-Men franchise made $55 million when it opened in 2011, but that's a good bit less than the last standalone Wolverine movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, opened to in 2009; it made $85 million in its first weekend and topped out at $373 million worldwide. Is The Wolverine in danger of not outdoing its predecessor?

Maybe, but don't sweat it too much. In their weekend preview The Hollywood Reporter says The Wolverine is on track for a $65 million opening-- yes, lower than X-Men: Origins, but the new movie was also cheaper, and ought to have better long-term success thanks to much stronger reviews (including ours70%, and it's not just the critics who are interested. Fandango gives The Wolverine a "anticipation" score of 91%, which accounts not just for actual ticket sales, but for people looking up the movie showtimes, social media mentions and other factors. Closest behind it is last weekend's hit The Conjuring with a score of 77. The horror effort with its own great reviews ought to hold on strong for the weekend, but won't be able to compete against the super-powered The Wolverine.

We hear from Fandango from time to time with stats on how upcoming films are faring in terms of online tickets sales, and more often than not they're right on the money. Sure, their Fanticipation score gave Pacific Rim an edge over Grown Ups 2 that might have unfairly raised the hopes of fans who then watched the Adam Sandler sequel clobber Guillermo del Toro. But they also helped us predict that Pacific Rim wouldn't be a gigantic flop, contrary to some buzz, and they turned out to be right. And back when Iron Man 3 was about to open, Fandango said the Marvel sequel made up 86% of their online ticket sales, helping buoy the buzz going into its own giant opening. Knowing who's buying tickets ahead of time isn't the entire key to predicting box office... but it sure doesn't hurt. At the very least, knowing that there's strong fan anticipation for The Wolverine helps us have faith that moviegoers, at least once in a while, know a good thing when they see it.

If you're seeing The Wolverine at midnight screenings tonight or at any point over the weekend, we've got you covered, with both a guide to the comic that inspired the film and our usual To 3D or not to 3D rundown to help you buy the right ticket. Let us know in the comments if you're seeing The Wolverine, or if you're just holding out until X-Men: Days of Future Past reunites Logan with the rest of his mutant team. The trailer for The Wolverine is below if that might help make up your mind:

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