Box office preview: Sequel showdown

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Image Credit: Dreamworks Animation

Here’s an interesting conundrum: This weekend we have two sequels opening wide — 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2. Both of the first films did well critically and at the box office, and both sequels are pretty much guaranteed a terrific debut and a healthy life thanks to the enormously positive reviews. They’re even tracking similarly, with analysts predicting openings in the $50 million to $60 million range.

But, in this box office horse race, there has to be a winner, even if in this case second place isn’t going to be bad. At all. We could be lame and call it a tie, but what would be the point of that?

Here’s how things might play out:

1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — $55 million
After a number of box office disappointments, including Mr. Peabody & Sherman, DreamWorks Animation is bound to finally have another hit on their hands with How to Train Your Dragon 2. The first film opened to $43 million in 2010 and went on to gross $494.9 million worldwide. Twentieth Century Fox is distributing the PG-rated sequel, which analysts say could open in the $60 million range. Critics love it too. It currently has a fantastic 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. EW’s Joe McGovern gave it a B, writing: “While the original movie benefited from narrative simplicity and an admirable lack of villains, this one paints the screen with too many characters and frequent diversions from the main story, but nevertheless serves up a bountiful and sugary feast for the 3-D-bespectacled eyes.” The pic also opens in 20 international markets this weekend.

2. 22 Jump Street — $50 million
Phil Lord and Chris Miller proved the skeptics wrong when they released their fresh, irreverent, and surprisingly brilliant take on the ’80s sitcom in 2012. The $42 million film went on to gross $201.6 million worldwide. Then they did the seemingly impossible again by creating something great out of a flimsy conceit in The Lego Movie. Needless to say, there’s a lot of goodwill for Lord and Miller going into 22 Jump Street, which reunites officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) and sends them off on an undercover mission at a college. It’s tested higher than any other R-rated comedy in Sony’s history, and critics are on board too, considering its 86 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. EW’s Chris Nashawaty wasn’t as high on the sequel. In his B- review, he writes: “If you loved 21 Jump Street, you’re in luck: The sequel, 22 Jump Street, is the exact same movie. Since the first film was such a fast and fizzy buddy-cop bromance, that’s not the worst news in the world. But it is a bit of a disappointment.” Analysts are predicting a $45 million to $50 million opening weekend for the pic, which will be playing in 3,300 locations in North America.

3. The Fault in Our Stars — $20 million
After a stunning debut last weekend, Fox’s $12 million adaptation should see a significant fall — perhaps in the 60 percent range. Devoted fans of the book all likely turned out for opening weekend, so it’ll be interesting to see how word-of-mouth plays into the lifetime earnings of this one.

4. Maleficent — $16 million
Disney’s revisionist fairy tale has earned more than $140.9 million domestically, as of June 11. As it enters its third weekend in theaters, the Angelina Jolie-starrer will probably drop more than 55 percent, thanks in part to increased competition in the family space from How to Train Your Dragon 2.

5. Edge of Tomorrow — $14 million
Warner Bros.’ $178 million Tom Cruise action pic is destined for a fall in the 50 percent range. Though it’s only racked up $38.2 million domestically so far, this is one of those movies that is going to earn its keep at the foreign box office. As of June 8, it had already made $111 million internationally, with $25.7 million of that coming from China.

Check back in this weekend for estimates and analysis.

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