Fox's latest 'Predator' movie is poised for a strong $30-million debut

Twentieth Century Fox’s new “Predator” movie is expected to have a high body count — and a deadly opening at the box office.

The latest movie spawned from the three-decade-old action series is expected to gross a strong $30 million to $35 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. That would put the $88-million sci-fi slaughter on target to snatch the No. 1 domestic spot from last week’s victor, “The Nun,” and further dispel the notion that audiences are tiring of sequels, reboots and remakes.

It should be a tight race for the top. “The Nun,” the latest hit from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema’s “The Conjuring” franchise, baptized theaters with $54 million in ticket sales last weekend, setting a record for the R-rated horror series. That means the spinoff is likely to enjoy a second weekend of $25 million. (Fox executives downplayed projections, saying they expect an opening of $25 million to $30 million for “The Predator.”)

Here’s what to watch.

‘If it bleeds, we can kill it’

“The Predator” is the fourth movie in the long-running series about a technologically advanced species of aliens that kill humans for sport.

Although the franchise has never been a critical darling, it has endured because of its scary extraterrestrial villains and its blend of Reagan-era military action and violent horror.

The 1987 original, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers, grossed $59 million domestically ($134 million in today’s dollars), according to Box Office Mojo. The most recent attempted reboot, 2010’s “Predators,” collected $127 million in global receipts on a $40-million budget. Fox also made two “Alien vs. Predator” movies in the 2000s, which were widely derided crossovers with the studio’s other famous sci-fi horror series.

“Lethal Weapon” scribe and “Iron Man 3” director Shane Black, who played one of the many humans dispatched in the first “Predator,” directed and co-wrote the new movie, which promises even stronger and smarter hunters. John Davis returns to the franchise as producer.

The film ran into controversy recently after actress Olivia Munn alerted the studio that an actor with a minor role was a registered sex offender. Fox removed a scene featuring the actor, who was a friend of Black’s, after Munn came forward, The Times reported this month.

‘Favor’-able box office?

Amid the box office bloodbath of dreadlocked aliens and killer nuns, Paul Feig’s latest film, “A Simple Favor,” will try to draw female audiences to the multiplex.

Feig, best known for popular comedies such a “Bridesmaids,” gets more serious this time with his thriller starring Anna Kendrick as a mommy vlogger on a mission to find out what happened to her missing best friend (Blake Lively). As a bonus draw, “A Simple Favor” also stars Henry Golding, who played the male lead in the recent summer smash “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Released by Lionsgate, “A Simple Favor” is expected to gross a solid $10 million to $15 million.

At the same time, Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 will unveil its latest film, “White Boy Rick,” starring Matthew McConaughey as the father of a young FBI informant in a drug-torn 1980s Detroit. Sony Pictures is distributing the roughly $27-million production, which was fully financed by Studio 8. The studio is expecting an opening of $8 million to $10 million and is banking on positive buzz from festivals and potential awards consideration to boost its prospects.

Lastly, Pure Flix, a distributor focused on the Christian audience, will release “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” a follow-up to the 2014 drama about Olympian and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini. The original (directed by Angelina Jolie) was a box-office success, though many Christians criticized it for leaving out Zamperini’s religious awakening. The sequel, directed by Harold Cronk (“God’s Not Dead”) tells the rest of the story. It’s expected to open with about $4 million, but projections are often unreliable for faith-based movies.

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