Box office preview: 'The Croods' will oust 'Oz' from top spot

CROODS-BOX-OFFICE

Image Credit: Dreamworks Animation

Oz has reigned atop the box office for two weeks, but Fox’s family flick The Croods is ready to club the Disney tentpole out of the pole position this weekend.

Two other new releases, the White House thriller Olympus Has Fallen and the Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy Admission, should also make notable debuts, as will Harmony Korine’s “Disney Channel starlets gone bad” film Spring Breakers, which is expanding from three theaters to over 1,000 locations.

Here’s how the box office may shake out:

1. The Croods – $40 million
The caveman comedy will be the first film distributed under the new five-year DreamWorks Animation/Fox deal. From 2006 to 2012, DreamWorks Animation had its films distributed by Paramount. Both companies took a big hit last year with Rise of the Guardians, which forced DreamWorks Animation to take an $87 million writedown. The Croods should fare much better. It’s more colorful, more comedic, and facing less competition for families than Rise was in November. Fox has marketed the film, which cost about $135 million, aggressively, and the distributor has a proven formula for success — they launched Rio to $39.2 million in spring 2011. Out in a massive 4,046 theaters, The Croods could earn $40 million over its first three days.

2. Oz The Great and Powerful – $22 million
The $215 million production, which has already earned $153 million domestically, would fall more sharply against The Croods if it played exclusively to families. Thankfully, Oz is hitting with more than just parents and kids. As it stands, the film may drop by nearly 50 percent to $22 million, giving it a $178 million total.

3. Olympus Has Fallen – $21 million
FilmDistrict will distribute Millennium Entertainment’s $70 million White House thriller, which stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, and Aaron Eckhart in 3,098 theaters. Olympus is entering a market that has been especially unkind to male-driven action in recent months, but its buzz seems to have built nonetheless. Seeing the White House in danger is a popular novelty — a second White House action movie, White House Down, will hit theaters this summer — and Olympus‘ strong advertising images will bring in men over the age of 18, with whom the R-rated film has been tracking well. Plus, Morgan Freeman!  All told, expect about $21 million over the weekend.

4. Admission – $9 million
Everyone likes Tina Fey. And everyone likes Paul Rudd. But people like them because they make them laugh — something that ads for Admission, Focus Features’ $13 million college admission comedy, have failed to do. Fey’s fans like her because she’s sharp, not sweet, so they may skip this one. And the weak performances of How Do You Know, Wanderlust, and Our Idiot Brother suggest that Rudd is a bigger draw in male-targeting comedies than female-friendly relationship tales. Focus is releasing Admission in 2,160 theaters, where it may only make about $9 million.

5. The Call – $8.5 million
The Halle Berry thriller dialed up a successful debut weekend, but with mediocre buzz and loads of new competition, there’s no reason it should hold especially well. The Call may dip 50 percent to $8.5 million, which would give it nearly $31 million total. Not half bad considering the TriStar-released film cost only $15 million to produce.

Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers has a shot at breaking into the Top 5, if it isn’t too weird for mainstream America. The film earned $263,000 from three theaters last weekend, encouraging distributor A24 to push it into 1,104 locations this time around. Spring Breakers has garnered massive publicity from the casting of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, two Disney starlets eager to shed their good-girl images. Still, that doesn’t always translate into box office numbers, and Breakers is an off-center film that may struggle to connect with audiences. Curiosity may help pull in about $6 million for the weekend.

Check back to EW all weekend to see how all these films end up doing!

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