Box office preview: 'Monsters University' eyes a monstrous debut; 'World War Z' hopes to go viral

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Superman came, saw, and conquered the box office last weekend — soaring to the best June opening of all time. But this time around, Man of Steel has some super-size competition. Monsters University and World War Z are hitting theaters, and both are on track to have very healthy debuts. The box office has never seen three movies earn more than $50 million in one weekend before — but there’s a chance that could happen for the fist time this year.

Here’s how I think the weekend might play out:

1. Monsters University – $81 million
The original Monsters Inc. opened to $62.5 million way back in 2001, and between Pixar’s brand appeal and young adults’ nostalgia, this prequel’s prospects are rosy. Last year, Disney opened Brave to about $66 million in June, and the studio opened Cars 2 to similar numbers one year earlier. Monsters U boasts poppier visuals than Brave and has better built-in equity than Cars 2 (a sequel to a film that many consider Pixar’s first misstep), so it should draw larger crowds. Disney hasn’t reported the film’s budget, but considering Brave cost $185 million and didn’t have in-demand voice actors like Billy Crystal and John Goodman to negotiate with, it’s likely that Monsters cost more. Still, it’s destined to be a smash around the world, so the Mouse House shouldn’t be worried. With a family-friendly G-rating, Monsters U should conquer the weekend with about $81 million.

2. Man of Steel – $53 million
The film might not win the weekend this time around, but Superman should still be pretty super thanks to its “A-” CinemaScore. Man of Steel has already earned more than $161 million in only seven days, and it will have easily surpassed Superman Returns‘ $200 million haul by Sunday. With huge competition from the two new openers, Man of Steel may fall by about 55 percent to $53 million, giving it an incredible $223 million after two frames.

3. World War Z – $48 million
The zombie thriller starring Brad Pitt was a famously troubled production, and although film nerds thrive on such juicy behind-the-scenes drama, general audiences don’t tend to care. According to Fandango, 87 percent of people buying tickets for World War Z say the production issues in the Marc Forster-directed film had zero effect on their ticket purchase. That being said, the film cost Paramount a boatload, and it will need to be a smash to earn back its budget. What is World War Z‘s budget, you ask? Paramount claims it spent $190 million on the film, but reports place costs in the $200 million to $250 million range. Yowza.

Paramount has aggressively marketed the picture (though, curiously, hidden all zombies), and a wave of positive reviews suggest World War Z is not a creative disaster at all. Brad Pitt’s presence assures some crowds (and more women than a regular zombie picture might attract), and he’ll be a major boon internationally. Domestically, Paramount expects the film to earn about $40 million, but tracking services suggest it has further breakout potential. World War Z could scare up $48 million this weekend.

4. This is the End – $12.5 million
The R-rated comedy has earned great reviews and word-of-mouth has carried it to strong business during weekday showtimes. A 40 percent drop would give the apocalyptic laugher more than $12 million for the weekend and about $58 million total.

5. Now You See Me – $6.3 million
The $75 million magician caper should enjoy one final weekend in the top five, crossing $90 million total in the process.

Check back to EW all weekend long to see how these films perform, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates!

Read more:
‘Monsters University’: EW Review
‘World War Z’: EW Review
‘Man of Steel’: EW Review

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