Box office preview: Will 'The Smurfs 2' beat 'The Wolverine' and Mark Wahlberg?

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Image Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

[UPDATED] On the surface, this weekend’s face-off between a sequel based on a Saturday morning cartoon and an R-rated action flick called 2 Guns sounds almost like a parody of the state of summer movie offerings.

The Smurfs 2 opened wide Wednesday, and the generically titled Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington feature hits theaters on Friday, and both will likely net out with similar earnings. Ultimately, even though neither movie seems destined to flop, both could be arriving a little too late to an over-saturated market. We’ve already seen a number of buddy action movies, including Pain and Gain, which also starred Wahlberg, and White House Down, and families have had at least a few animated options this summer alone.

Here’s how the weekend might play out:

1. 2 Guns - $24 million
Universal’s $61 million action flick, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as two undercover government officials who must team up after failing to infiltrate a drug cartel, has failed to pick up any significant buzz. The studio projects that 2 Guns will walk away with about $20 million in its opening weekend, which would be right on track with Pain and Gain, which opened at $20.2 million in late April and went on to make $49.8 million.

2. The Smurfs 2 - $31 million (five days); $23.5 million (three days)
Again, the biggest issue with The Smurfs 2 is how late it’s coming to the game this summer. Families have already turned out for Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University — both of which flew past the $200 million mark with relative ease. It’s unlikely that there is a dormant contingent of Smurfs fans who haven’t checked out at least one of the other offerings and there may be a little bit of fatigue. The CG and live-action sequel opened wide Wednesday and brought in an estimated $5.2 million, which could indicate a five-day total of about $31 million. The first Smurfs picture opened at $35.6 million in July 2011 and went on to earn $142.6 million domestically, and $421.1 million internationally.

3. The Wolverine $23 million
When final reports came in Monday, The Wolverine netted out at $53.1 million for its opening weekend. The $120 million Hugh Jackman vehicle may only drop around 55 percent as it heads into its second weekend, thanks to favorable reviews. By comparison, the dismally received X-Men Origins: Wolverine fell a whopping 69 percent in its second weekend after opening at $85.1 million in May 2009.

4. The Conjuring - $12 million
James Wan’s The Conjuring will likely continue to perform well in its third week in theaters, and possibly cross the $100 million mark. The $20 million movie dropped off about 46.9% in its second weekend — faring much better than The Purge, which experienced a 75.6% drop off in the same time period.

5. Despicable Me 2 - $8 million
The seemingly unstoppable Despicable Me 2 blew past the $300 million mark and continues to hold its own. The animated sequel has been slowly reducing its theater count as it heads into its fifth weekend, and we may see some diminished returns as families decide between the minions and the little blue guys — both of which are PG-rated.

Sundance favorite The Spectacular Now, starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, also opens this weekend in four theaters. Check back in this weekend for more box office.

Note: A previous version of this article predicted that 2 Guns would make $19 million this weekend. It has been updated to reflect more recent tracking numbers which put the action flick on a more promising path. This update bumped The Smurfs 2 out of first place.

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