Will the kids who turn out for “Despicable Me 2” get the better of the on-screen man-children of “Grown Ups 2”?
The two films will battle for No. 1 at the multiplex this weekend, as Guillermo del Toro's 3-D "Pacific Rim" will meanwhile hope to avoid the same fate as recent big-budget flops “The Lone Ranger,” “White House Down” and “After Earth.”
"Despicable Me 2," which debuted with a huge $83.5 million, will likely take in another $45 million during its second weekend in theaters, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. That's about as much as "Grown Ups 2," the comedy sequel starring Adam Sandler and his cronies, is expected to start off with.
"Pacific Rim," however, is more of a question mark. Despite receiving mostly positive reviews -- even from rapper Kanye West -- the movie does not appear to be generating much interest among moviegoers. Industry tracking suggests the movie may debut with just $35 million -- a disappointing figure for a movie with a $190-million budget.
Interestingly, on Thursday morning ticket-seller Fandango said that the sci-fi action flick accounted for over 60% of the site's weekend sales -- putting it ahead of where "World War Z" was at the same point in the sales cycle. The Brad Pitt zombie flick -- which also cost nearly $200 million to produce -- opened with $66.4 million. It remains to be seen if Del Toro's rabid fans are more likely to buy advance tickets than "World War Z" filmgoers, or if tracking is underestimating the movie's potential.
Meanwhile, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that "Grown Ups 2" will become a hit for Sony. Like the original, the sequel is not a favorite with reviewers. On Thursday, "Grown Ups 2" had notched an embarrassing 0% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, the movie is generating strong interest among young men -- the same demographic "Pacific Rim" is tracking well with.
The sequel reunites Sandler with David Spade, Chris Rock and Kevin James as they head back to the small town where they were raised. The picture was directed by longtime Sandler collaborator Dennis Dugan, who has now worked with Sandler on eight movies.
The actor is coming off his first major live-action flop in years, "That's My Boy," which took in a dismal $36.9 million in the U.S. and Canada last summer. Previously, the comedian had proved to be a reliable box office draw, his movies regularly passing the $100-million milestone. Released in 2010, the critically despised "Grown Ups" became the biggest hit of his career, taking in a surprisingly strong $162 million on a budget of $80 million. (The sequel cost Sony Pictures about the same to produce.)
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures spent more than double that to make "Pacific Rim," which is full of high-tech robots and elaborate special effects. The movie is the first Del Toro has directed in five years, though he has been a profilic producer. He left "The Hobbit" after spending many months working on it in New Zealand, and was involved in an ultimately doomed effort to make the monster movie "At the Mountains of Madness."
While "Grown Ups 2" is populated with recognizable faces, Warner Bros. is counting on Del Toro's brand to attract moviegoers. "Pacific Rim" stars an ensemble cast, none of whom have anchored major hits, including Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Charlie Day. While Del Toro is a fanboy favorite, "Pacific Rim" is his first venture into potential blockbuster territory. To date, his biggest hit is "Blade II," the Wesley Snipes movie that made $82.3 million in 2002.
In limited release, the Weinstein Co. will release its critically acclaimed drama "Fruitvale Station" in seven theaters. The movie, opening in New York, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, stars up-and-comer Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant III, an African American 22-year-old who was shot in 2009 by a white BART police officer. Because Grant was unarmed, his death sparked outrage and riots in Oakland.