Box office preview: 'Elysium' may lift off faster than 'Planes'

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Image Credit: Stephanie Blomkamp

This week, four new releases — Elysium, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Planes, and We’re the Millers — are flooding theaters, and they will likely take up the first four spots at the box office. Here’s how the chart might look this weekend:

1. Elysium – $32 million
Sony’s $115 million sci-fi film has the best shot at winning the weekend, though it may not be able to match the debut of director Neill Blomkamp’s first film, District 9, which opened with $37.4 million in 2009. Matt Damon’s star power will certainly draw crowds, but in a summer that’s been stuffed with sci-fi fare, Elysium is a high-concept original film arriving rather late to the party. Comparable titles include Oblivion, which opened with $37.1 million, and Pacific Rim, which opened with $37.2 million, but Elysium may have to work harder to reach those heights with an R rating. The film could open to about $32 million this weekend.

2. Planes – $28 million
Disney originally intended this animated spin-off “from above the world of Cars” to go direct-to-DVD, but perhaps in an attempt to increase the theatrical output of Disney’s animation division, the studio opted to give Planes a full release. The $50 million film is arriving on a scene that’s lately been plagued by family film fatigue. Box office returns for The Smurfs 2 and Turbo have lagged. Still, Disney’s marketing muscle can’t be denied, and vague association with the Pixar brand never hurts. According to Fandango, the film is selling very well heading into the weekend, and Planes may take off to a better-than-expected $28 million.

3. We’re The Millers – $23 million
The Jason Sudeikis/Jennifer Aniston comedy topped the chart on Wednesday with $6.8 million, which paves the way for a solid debut weekend. The Warner Bros. film, which cost a slim $37 million to produce, could earn about $30 million to $35 million in its first five days of theaters, and with an “A-” CinemaScore, that’s enough to put it on track for profitability. Sudeikis, who’s recently made viral appearances in a Mumford & Sons video and an uproarious American vs. British football spoof, has only led one movie at the box office, 2011’s Horrible Bosses (also starring Jennifer Aniston), which opened to $28.1 million. The Wednesday debut may prevent We’re The Millers from reaching that high over the Friday-to-Sunday period, but raunchy comedy plays well in the summer, and it may still be able to manage about $23 million over the frame.

4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – $19 million
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief earned a somewhat lackluster $88.4 million domestically in 2010, and though it fared better overseas (with $137 million), there was no guarantee that Fox would greenlight a sequel. But the studio saw potential in the adventure franchise, and put this $90 million sequel (which thankfully dropped the “and the Olympians” from the title) into production. The film opened with $5.4 million on Wednesday, which suggests that the film may earn about $28 million over the five-day frame. There’s no way it matches The Lightning Thief‘s $31.2 million debut, but Sea of Monsters could swim away with $19 million during the weekend.

5. 2 Guns – $13 million
With so much new competition in the market, the Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg action film will likely drop by about 50-55 percent to $13 million, which would give the Universal film just over $50 million total.

Check back to EW throughout the weekend for more box office updates!

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