Box office preview: 'Expendables 3' to challenge 'Turtle' power

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Image Credit: Phil Bray

In what just as easily could have been a box office showdown from 1990, Sylvester Stallone and his buddies face off against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at theaters this weekend. And even though The Expendables 3 boasts a star-studded action hero cast of a just-bygone era, the Turtles might still win out.

The long-gestating adaptation of The Giver opens wide as well, playing alongside the buddy comedy Let’s Be Cops, which hit theaters on Wednesday. Indie darling Boyhood expands to just under 800 theaters, too.

Here’s how things might play out on this late summer weekend.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — $27 million
The Turtles might just hold on to the No. 1 spot after opening to a much higher-than-expected $65.6 million last weekend. A 58 percent drop, a little steeper than Guardians‘ second week fall, would put the pic in the $27 million range.

2. The Expendables 3 — $25 million
Lionsgate debuts the third installment in Sylvester Stallone’s testosterone-filled franchise in 3,221 North American locations Friday, and tracking puts it in the $20 to $25 million range. This latest take pits Barney (Stallone) and Christmas (Statham) against Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), an Expendables co-founder gone bad whom Barney assumed he already killed. Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Ronda Rousey, and Terry Crews also star in the pic, which currently has a 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. But the biggest strike against this one is the fact that it leaked online in advance of its theatrical debut—suggesting that the most eager fans, who helped The Expendables and its sequel open to $34.8 million and $28.6 million, respectively, might not be interested in heading back to the theaters for this one.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy — $20 million
The Marvel sensation will likely fall in the 40 percent range in weekend three, similar to that of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which still managed to make $25.6 million in its third outing. Guardians has already made over $330 million worldwide and will pass the $200 million domestic mark shortly.

4. Let’s Be Cops — $16 million ($25 for the five-day)
Fox released its action comedy Let’s Be Cops in 2,936 locations starting with 10 p.m. showings on Tuesday night. The R-rated pic about a pair of friends (Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr.) who dress up as cops and accidentally get entangled in a dangerously real policing situation brought in an estimated $5.2 million in its first day in theaters and should be on track to make around $25 million on the five-day. It’s a good showing for a film with a $17 million production budget, especially considering that critics have not been kind to the pic. But audiences are probably just looking for a true comedy and not looking at its 10 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

5. The Giver — $15 million
After nearly 20 years of development hell, the big screen adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver finally hits theaters this weekend, playing in 3,003 locations. The Weinstein Company is distributing the adaptation which stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites and cost somewhere in the mid-$20 millions to produce. Tracking suggests that the Phillip Noyce-directed pic could open in the mid-teens. “It’s a YA-themed movie, but it’s really done in the way the Weinsteins do movies. It’s much more though-provoking than a typical YA franchise movie,” says Weinstein’s distribution president Erik Lomis. He adds: “If it hits mid-teens, I think we’d be very, very happy with that.” It’s currently at a 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and EW’s Jeff Labrecque gave it a C-. He writes: “In the end, the film practically collapses under its own…hmm, what’s the opposite of ‘weight’?”

It’s a Sundance-heavy weekend in limited release. The Trip to Italy, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, opens in three theaters. Also hitting theaters are the zombie rom-com Life After Beth, with Aubrey Plaza, and Frank, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender, and Domnhall Gleeson. Finally, indie sensation Boyhood expands to 777 locations.

Check back in this weekend for estimates and analysis.

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