Box office preview: Can 'The Wolverine' save the summer box office?

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Image Credit: Ben Rothstein

Wolverine is all by his lonesome, tortured, extremely ripped self this weekend at the box office, and big things are expected. As the single new nationwide release, all eyes will be on the Fox juggernaut to see if it might actually be the summer movie to break through the box office slump with a strong opening. It’s not a question of whether or not it will win the weekend, it’s a question of just how brutally it will crush the recent big budget disappointments like The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D., Pacific Rim, and White House Down. If anyone can take the pressure, it’s probably the clawed mutant.

Here’s how things might play out:

1. The Wolverine - $70 million
20th Century Fox is in an enviable position this weekend. Not only is their big, $120 million shot at reviving Wolverine as a solo star free of competition, it’s also on track to make at least $65 million, but could easily go as high as $80 million this weekend. It should be noted that the movie will be opening on Thursday night, and playing in 3-D. Still, director Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which also starred Jackman in the title role, is a tough standard to live up to. The 2009, $150 million movie opened to $85.1 million the first weekend of May. James Mangold, who took the helming position this time around, re-teaming him with his Kate & Leopold star Hugh Jackman, has a box office history as varied as his resume, which includes films like Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line (his highest grossing movie to date at $119.5 million domestically), and 3:10 to Yuma. Wolverine is already earning stronger reviews than its predecessor, and will be released in various overseas markets this weekend as well.

2. The Conjuring – $19 million
After stealing last weekend by bringing in $41 million and beating the pricier competition, James Wan’s still-buzzy $20 million horror film will probably drop around 50% in its second weekend.

3. Despicable Me 2 – $13 million
The animated sequel will probably continue to enjoy a healthy run in its fourth weekend. After experiencing two weekends with drops in the mid 40% range, the star-packed feature will likely experience another 50% drop, especially considering the competition from Turbo, which is only in its second week. The PG-rated feature has already grossed more than $287.2 million domestically for Universal.

4. Turbo – $9 million
Poor Turbo can’t quite make it to the finish line. The $135 million animated tale of racing snails did not make a huge impact out of the gates and will likely only continue to fall steeply into its second weekend in theaters. So far, Turbo has brought in about $39.9 million domestically for Fox. The looming release of Smurfs 2 probably isn’t going to bode well for the movie either.

5. Grown Ups 2 – $7 million
Adam Sandler’s first sequel has already made $87.8 million against its estimated $80 million budget in two weekends despite a 52% drop off in the second week. The star-packed buddy comedy will likely experience a similar, if not more drastic drop off this weekend. Despite some dismal reviews, Grown Ups 2 will easily pass the $100 million mark by next weekend.

CBS Films’ raunchy $2 million comedy The To-Do List also opens in limited release this weekend. Playing in 591 theaters, the Aubrey Plaza-starrer could earn as much as $2 million to $2.5 million out of the gates, while Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine opens in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s summertime coming-of-age tale The Way, Way Back and Ryan Coogler’s dramatized true story Fruitvale Station — both Sundance hits — are expanding this weekend.

Grady Smith will be back with his box office musings in two weeks, but in the meantime, let’s talk Wolverine. What do you think this weekend will look like? Also, be sure to check in on Saturday and Sunday for more box office updates.

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