Nikki Finke‘s report this morning that 20th Century Fox is internally projecting a $70 to $75 million domestic opening-weekend gross for Wolverine (with rival studios predicting closer to $80 million) makes you wonder to what extent the illegal piracy and downloading of the film — which was first noticed on or about April 1st — may have hurt the earning potential. Would it be looking at a $90-to-$100 million opening without the piracy?

Brett Ratner‘s 2006 X-Men movie cost $210 million, opened to $102.7 millon. Bryan Singer‘s X-Men United cost $110 million, opened to $85.5 million. The key consideration, of course, is whether the illegal downloading has influenced the general word-of-mouth. How could it not?