Box office preview: 'The Conjuring' could race past 'Turbo' this weekend

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Image Credit: Warner Brothers

This weekend, Ryan Reynolds will face himself at the box office (R.I.P.D. vs. Turbo), and Mary Louise Parker will too (Red 2 vs. R.I.P.D.), but neither star is likely to walk away with the No. 1 film. That distinction should belong to newcomer The Conjuring, which is scaring up huge pre-release buzz thanks to an extra-creepy marketing campaign. Here’s how I think the box office might look this weekend:

1. The Conjuring – $32 million
James Wan has made a name for himself in the horror genre with Saw and Insidious, two well-made projects that surprised box office analysts and critics alike. And he got a huge profile boost when he was named the director of the upcoming Fast & Furious 7. Thus, it’s no surprise that Wan’s latest project, The Conjuring, is arriving in theaters with heightened expectations. Of course, the film’s incredibly effective trailer — an extended scene that finds Lili Taylor playing hide-and-seek — has made it a buzzy release too.

The Warner Bros. film has whipped the Internet into a frenzy (though, as Pacific Rim proved, that’s not always a sign of box office dominance), and an R-rating will keep younger teens at bay. Still, The Purge‘s $34.1 million debut in May proves that R-rated horror can be appealing counter-programming in a summer stuffed with blockbusters. Out in 2,903 theaters, The Conjuring may scare up about $32 million this weekend.

2. Despicable Me 2 – $24.5 million
The $76 million animated film has topped the chart for two weekends in a row and earned over $500 million worldwide. After a 46 percent drop last weekend, the film may fall by a similar amount to about $24.5 million this time around, which would push its domestic total past $275 million total.

3. Turbo – $23 million
The animated film about a radioactive snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) competing with race cars opened on Wednesday to $5.6 million — a fair start for the $135 million project that was produced by DreamWorks and is being distributed by Fox. Hot on the heels of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, families likely are not desperate for another animated entry (especially with Despicable Me 2 still performing so well), but Turbo won’t have to settle for a total snail pace at the box office. With a super-wide 3,806-theater count, Turbo may take in about $33 million in its first five days ($23 million over the traditional weekend frame).

4. Grown Ups 2 – $20 million
Adam Sandler’s latest comedy may fall by about 50-55 percent in its sophomore frame, which would give the film about $80 million total against an $80 million budget.

5. Red 2 – $19.5 million
If Turbo is targeting families, and The Conjuring is aiming for young adults, then Red 2 has the older demographic all to itself. The $85 million action film, which reunites stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Anthony Hopkins as an elderly troop of covert spies, was certainly not a necessary sequel from a storytelling standpoint, but Red‘s $90.3 million gross in 2010 had Summit eager for a second helping. There’s little must-see demand for the film, though, and it seems unlikely to perform at the same level as its predecessor. (Much in the same way that The Expendables 2 trailed The Expendables.) Red opened with $21.8 million, and in a less-crowded marketplace, Red 2 might match that. As it stands, though, Red 2 may finish with about $19.5 million.

Outside the top five will be Universal’s R.I.P.D., which unites Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges with Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds. Buzz on the film, which follows a pair of cops in the afterlife, has been terrible, and it did not screen early for critics, which is never a good sign. R.I.P.D.‘s trailers have drawn unfavorable comparisons to the Men in Black franchise, and it’s safe to say that the movie won’t reach MIB numbers. Unfortunately, R.I.P.D. cost $135 million, and despite opening in 3,016 theaters, it may not even break $10 million this weekend.

Stay tuned to EW all weekend for more box office coverage!

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