This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows a scene from, "Kong: Skull Island." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a battle of the beasts at the box office this weekend, and King Kong emerged as the definitive victor over Wolverine.

According to studio estimates Sunday, “Kong: Skull Island” amassed $61 million in its first weekend in theaters, surpassing expectations and easily beating out “Logan,” which is now in its second weekend.

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Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “Kong: Skull Island” stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s the second in the planned “monster universe” following the latest “Godzilla,” which grossed $529.1 million worldwide in 2014.

Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ head of domestic distribution, said the weekend “far exceeded everyone’s expectations,” and he predicts Monday actuals might come in higher than the estimated $61 million. The film, which earned a B CinemaScore overall, was graded stronger by younger audiences, many of whom will have extra days off soon for spring break.

“The world of mouth is really kicking in,” Goldstein said.

Costing a reported $185 million to produce, “Kong” still has work to be done, however, to reach profitability, and much of that will depend on international earnings. This weekend it topped international charts as well with $81.6 million from 66 territories.

“They had a solid weekend. But they’re going to be looking for a half-billion worldwide to make it a certifiable hit,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore.

Fox’s “Logan” took second place, down around 58 percent from its first weekend with $37.9 million. The R-rated pic, which sees Hugh Jackman reprising his role as the X-Men character Wolverine, has earned $152.7 million in total.

In third place, “Get Out,” the buzzy horror film directed by Jordan Peele, added $21.1 million, pushing its sum to $111 million in just three weeks.

With a price tag of only $4.5 million, the movie is a certifiable hit for Blumhouse and Universal and continues to remain prominently in the conversation up against films with much larger production and marketing budgets behind them.

Rounding out the top five were the faith-based movie “The Shack,” with $10.1 million, and “The Lego Batman Movie” with $7.8 million.

The strong weekend nudged the year to date out of the red, too, and even at this early date, Dergarabedian thinks the box office might be headed for yet another record year based on the number of releases.

Next week shows no sign of slowing, either, with Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” poised to earn well over $100 million out of the gate.

“It’s a March of beasts for sure,” said Dergarabedian.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday

1.”Kong: Skull Island,” $61 million ($81.6 million international).

2.”Logan,” $37.9 million ($70 million international).

3.”Get Out,” $21.1 million.

4.”The Shack,” $10.1 million.

5.”The Lego Batman Movie,” $7.8 million ($5.1 million international).

6.”Before I Fall,” $3.1 million ($265,000 international).

7.”Hidden Figures,” $2.8 million ($5.1 million international).

8.”John Wick: Chapter Two,” $2.7 million ($2.5 million international).

9.”MET Opera: La Traviata,” $1.8 million ($1.8 million international).

10.”La La Land,” $1.8 million ($6.8 million international).

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. “Kong: Skull Island,” $81.6 million.

2. “Logan,” $70 million.

3. “A Dog’s Purpose,” $22.4 million.

4. “Badrinath Ki Dulhania,” $9.6 million.

5. “Moana,” $7 million.

6. “La La Land,” $6.8 million.

7. “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” $6.5 million.

8. “Sing,” $5.7 million.

9. “Fifty Shades Darker,” $5.2 million.

10. “Hidden Figures,” $5.1 million.

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Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr

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