Box office update: 'Need for Speed' takes the lead on Friday with $6.6 million, 'Veronica Mars' debuts at $1 million

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Need for Speed kicked into high gear on Friday and opened on top with an estimated $6.64 million, but the weekend winner is still undetermined. Last weekend’s top earners, 300: Rise of an Empire and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, are trailing close behind the Aaron Paul pic, and any are fair game for first place based on Friday estimates.

Adapted from the popular EA video game, Need for Speed may not even pass $20 million this weekend. Initial estimates put the car pic in the mid- to high-$20s range, but based on the soft Friday opening, that’s looking unlikely. With an estimated $65 million price tag, a mid-$20s opening was key. This could signal that it’s not actually a potential franchise for DreamWorks and distributor Disney.

EW’s Keith Staskiewicz noted the trend of failed video game adaptations in his C review, writing: Need for Speed is just another pileup in Hollywood’s long accident report of taking games from the couch to the theater seat.” On the whole, reviews have been somewhat dismal, but audiences might disagree. It may be currently hovering around 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Friday theater goers gave it a B+ Cinema Score.

Last weekend’s holdovers snagged the second and third place spots. The stylish sequel 300: Rise of an Empire took in an estimated $5.8 million and Mr. Peabody and Sherman came out of the weekend gates with $5.45 million. Though 300 won last weekend, there is a strong possibility that Mr. Peabody will pick up steam Saturday and Sunday and come out on top in its second week in theaters. Reviews were good, the buzz continues, and audiences seem to have gotten their fill of The Lego Movie. Also, the expensive DreamWorks Animation pic ($145 million) needs as much as it can get this weekend, before it faces off against Muppets Most Wanted next Friday.

Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club opened in 1,896 locations with an unimpressive $3.2 million (where it tied for fourth place with Non-Stop, now in its third weekend in theaters). Friday audiences gave the female-driven pic an A- Cinema Score, but reviews have been similarly dismal (22 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Most analysts were predicting a weekend in the $15+ million range, but it looks like the Lionsgate-distributed pic is going to come in lower than that, and could be Perry’s worst debut ever.

Here are the top 5:

1. Need for Speed – $6.64 million
2. 300: Rise of an Empire – $5.8 million
3. Mr. Peabody and Sherman – $5.45 million
4. [TIE] Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club and Non-Stop – $3.2 million
5. The Lego Movie – $2.05 million

In the speciality box office world, the Veronica Mars movie opened in 291 theaters Friday and earned an estimated $1 million. Also available on VOD, the Kickstarted-funded pic could be on track to make anywhere from $2.5 – $3 million across the weekend. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel expanded to 66 locations and 17 new markets after its record-breaking debut and took in an estimated $1.09 million. Finally, Jason Bateman’s vulgar spelling bee comedy Bad Words opened in six theaters to $38K.

Check back in to EW.com tomorrow for weekend estimates.

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