Can the ‘Turtles’ hold off ‘The Expendables?’

ScreenerBlog

Although three major-release films bow today (The Expendables 3, Let’s Be Cops, and The Giver), the No.1 spot at the box office should once again be filled by last week’s champion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Positive word-of-mouth will likely help the action comedy rake in a little under $30 million or so, which should be more than enough to fend off the competition.

In likely second place, The Expendables 3 is looking at a $20 to $25 million debut. The first film in the franchise opened to a strong $38.4 million in 2010, though its sequel bowed to a weaker $28.6 million in 2012. The low $20 millions projected for this third installment comes courtesy of Lionsgate, a studio full of execs who are understandably still miffed at those who leaked a copy of The Expendables 3 several weeks ago. The film has reportedly been downloaded more than 2 million times. To what extent will its Internet availability affect Expendables’ ticket sales? To what extent will its new PG-13 rating, as opposed to the R of the earlier films? To what extent will simple franchise fatigue?

Marketing for The Expendables 3 makes the film seem more light-hearted than its predecessors, though viewers in the mood for comedy will likely opt for Let’s Be Cops instead. The poorly reviewed flick (a dismal 9 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes) technically opened on Wednesday, when it earned $5.2 million. Cops may not boast any marquee names, but its solid mid-week debut suggests weekend sales should be likewise healthy. It could earn just under $20 million for the weekend, or in the high $20 millions for its five-day total.

It’s looking as if Let’s Be Cops will out-earn The Giver, an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s beloved children’s book 20 years in the making. The novel certainly has a dedicated readership, but reviews have been poor (28 percent rotten on RT), and the decision to increase the age of protagonist Jonas from 12 to 18 or so, and to cast then 24-year-old Brenton Thwaites, has been met with fan opposition. Additionally, although The Giver was written well in advance of recent YA dystopian hits The Hunger Games and Divergent (whose authors owe a great deal to Lowry), its themes are so similar, those who are unfamiliar with the book could be forgiven for thinking its adaptation a copycat production. The Giver is looking at an opening weekend gross between $10 and $15 million.

Three specialty films expand considerably this weekend: Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight will play in 964 theatres, Boyhood will screen in 771, and What If has been booked for 786 locations.