Box office preview: 'Godzilla' fights for No. 1

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Image Credit: Warner Bros

The King of the Monsters prepares to be the King of the Box Office, as Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Godzilla stomps into theaters this weekend.

As one of cinema’s most beloved icons, this new take from indie director Gareth Edwards promises a terrifying origin story for the ancient beast and a drama about one particularly unlucky family. Sixteen years after Sony and Roland Emmerich’s botched attempt to kick off an exciting Godzilla franchise, it remains to be seen whether audiences are interested in the atomic-breathed monster and how well it might stand up to the army of summer superheroes.

Disney’s PG-rated sports drama Million Dollar Arm, starring Jon Hamm, also opens wide this weekend. Though it won’t be competing for the top spot — or anywhere close to that — it will be interesting to see whether a sincere, and somewhat sugary, sports pic will appeal to audiences in the long term as 42 managed to do last spring.

Here’s how things might play out:

1. Godzilla — $65 million
The $160 million monster pic debuts in over 3,952 locations domestically (including 3-D and IMAX) and in 60 overseas markets. Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen, the joint Legendary and Warner Bros. production (Legendary fronted 75 percent and Warner Bros. pitched in the remaining 25 percent) has benefited from a lot of good buzz thanks to its solid ensemble cast, a set of terrifying and purposefully vague trailers, and good reviews. It should see a decent opening in the high $60 millions. EW’s Chris Nashawaty was not as high on the overall film.  In his B- review he writes: “I was hopeful that the splashy new 3-D reboot might rekindle the old flame. Unfortunately, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla feels like two movies Scotch-taped together…Only one of these movies is any good.”

2. Neighbors — $30 million
After surprising with a higher-than-expected $49 million debut (a live-action career high for stars Seth Rogen and Zac Efron), Universal’s R-rated comedy could fall in the 35 to 40 percent range in its second weekend in theaters — comparable to Ted‘s second-week fall. The $18 million pic could net upward of $140 million domestically by the end of its run.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — $16 million
Spidey fell a steep (but superhero normal) 61 percent in week two and will likely drop another 50 percent or more as it enters its third week in theaters domestically. The Sony pic has already brought in more than $153 million domestically, adding to its enormous $558 million worldwide total.

4. Million Dollar Arm — $15 million
Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm stars in this wholesome, based-on-a-true-account story of a sports agent who attempts to find a star pitcher on India’s cricket fields. Debuting in 3,019 theaters, the sports drama may not have the biggest opening, but it could have a healthy long-term run assuming word of mouth is solid. Warner Bros’ 42 opened in April 2013 to $27.5 million and went on to gross $95 million domestically. Reviews are mixed for Million Dollar Arm, though. It’s currently resting at a 58 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. (42, meanwhile, had a solid 79 percent). EW’s Chris Nashawaty gave it a B- and writes: “It’s the latest male weepie cast from the same Disney mold as The Rookie and Miracle, and it’s essentially Jerry Maguire Goes to Mumbai.”

5. The Other Woman — $6 million
Fox’s $40 million comedy has raked in over $130 million worldwide ($64 million domestic) after just three weeks in theaters. The female-led revenge romp has been holding over fairly well even as flashier fare hits theaters and may see another 35 percent drop as it enters weekend four. Star Cameron Diaz’s last big hit, Bad Teacher, had made $78.6 million by this point in the cycle, and, while The Other Woman is trailing just a bit, it’s still an indicator of her appeal, even in a more narrowly targeted comedy.

In the specialty box office world, The Weinstein Company is set to debut The Immigrant in three theaters. The James Gray-directed drama about a Polish woman in a seedy 1920s New York stars Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix.

Check back to EW.com this weekend for estimates and analysis.

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