Along with "The Lego Movie," which should attract families and adult fans of the toy brand, Sony is launching George Clooney's WWII art-caper "The Monuments Men," which the studio is projecting will land in the high-teens to low-$20 millions.
Weinstein Co.'s teen-targeted "Vampire Academy," tracking in the high single-digits, wasn't screened for critics.
This time last year, Universal helped reverse the first-quarter slump with its surprise hit comedy "Identity Thief," which bowed to nearly $35 million, a considerable overpeformance given its tracking at the time.
"Lego Movie," a Village Roadshow co-production, stands to outdo its pre-weekend expectations, with some observers predicting an opening gross north of $50 million. That depends largely on when the storm hits -- snowfall early on Sunday will have a greater impact on the toon considering family films typically see sizable business that day. Also, childless adults will play a big factor in the film's upside. (Warner has spent considerable ad dollars marketing the $60 million-budgeted toon to adults.)
Internationally, Warner launches "Lego Movie" day-and-date in 34 territories mostly throughout Latin America.
Disney, meanwhile, should have another big showing overseas with "Frozen," which enters its first weekend in China, with nearly $900 million globally.
Originally slated to bow late last year, "Monuments Men" was bumped back to give Clooney more time needed to finish the film. Early negative buzz also was rumored to have played a role in Sony pushing the film out of the awards race.
"Monuments Men," which cost $70 million to produce, should have strong overseas prospects given its international cast including Clooney, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett, all of whom play members of a motley crew tasked with saving the world's artistic masterpieces in Nazi Germany.
Advanced ticket sales for "Monuments Men" are in line with Sony's fall 2013 release "Captain Phillips," which opened with $25 million in three days. Pic accounted for 10% of online ticket sales on Wednesday, according to MovieTickets.com.
Still, "Lego Movie" is the pre-sales leader by far, as it's on track to becoming the second-highest advanced toon ticket seller for Fandango, behind "Toy Story 3." That's potentially big for the Warner toon, since fanboys typically are the driver of advanced ticket sales.
"Vampire Academy," which is based on the popular YA novel by Richelle Mead, should attract teen girls -- along with moviegoers 18-35 -- who are drawn to the film's campy pedigree, being from the director and writer of "Mean Girls" and "Heathers," respectively.
On the holdover front, Universal's "Ride Along" should continue to pull down hearty grosses and will be the first 2014 release to reach $100 million Stateside.
Taking a big hit this weekend will be "Frozen," which after 11 weeks has reigned supreme as the No. 1 family film, grossing more than $360 million and counting domestically. The toon saw a nice boost last weekend, thanks to its nationwide sing-along re-release. "Frozen" loses nearly 300 locations on Friday, however.
BowingFilm (Distributor): Locations
- The Lego Movie (WB): 3,775
- The Monuments Men (Sony): 3,083
- Vampire Academy (Weinstein): 2,676
- Hasee Toh Phasee (Reliance): 88