Box office preview: Summer 2014 goes out with a sigh

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The lackluster 2014 summer season comes to an end this Labor Day weekend with the release of the spy thriller November Man and the found-footage horror pic As Above/So Below. This holiday is always a slow one at theaters, and in all likelihood, Guardians of the Galaxy will once again claim the top spot to bid farewell to a season that is looking like it will net out at an eight-year low.

Here’s how things might play out.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy  $19 million
The highest earner of the season will likely come out on top over the four-day weekend, partially from audiences playing catch-up and some repeat viewers, too. Disney and Marvel’s space opera could pass the $275 million domestic mark by the end of Monday.

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $15 million
Paramount’s pizza-loving heroes (and newest franchise) will also play well over the holiday, which will likely bring its domestic grosses to over $160 million.

3. As Above/So Below $10 million
Legendary Pictures’ micro-budget psychological thriller As Above/So Below hits 2,637 locations this weekend. The story, directed and co-written by John Erick Dowdle, follows a group of explorers (including Mad Men‘s Ben Feldman) as they attempt to face some of their past sins in the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris. Thanks to a heightened social media engagement, tracking is in the $8-$10 million range for the four-day weekend. Universal is handling distribution on the movie, which has already opened in Belgium, France and Switzerland, taking in an estimated $900K. It’ll open day-and-date in five additional territories, including the U.K., and continue its rollout through November. It currently has a 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. The November Man $9 million
Pierce Brosnan returns to the spy genre with The November Man, which finds the former Bond playing an ex-CIA agent who takes a break from retirement to protect a valuable witness (Olga Kurylenko) who knows the secrets surrounding an old conspiracy. Roger Donaldson directs the pic, which is based on Bill Granger’s novel There are No Spies from the November Man series. Relativity acquired the movie for $3 million and hopes to target an undeserved older audience with this R-rated espionage tale which opened in 2,750 theaters on Wednesday, taking in an estimated $826K. Tracking puts its four-day earnings in the $9-$12 million range.

5. Let’s Be Cops $7 million
Audiences on the hunt for something fun might head to the R-rated comedy Let’s Be Cops once more, which held up well in its second weekend in theaters. The Fox pic has made over $48 million on a $17 million budget.

Sony is also re-releasing Ghostbusters in 784 theaters for its 30th anniversary, Lionsgate is premiering its drama Cantinflas in 382 locations, and Roadside Attractions is rolling out its Jennifer Aniston comedy Life of Crime in 33 locations. Other limited releases include The Congress, The Notebook (the Hungarian potential Oscar contender), Starred Up, and Last Weekend.

Check back in this weekend for estimates and analysis.

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