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Box office preview: 'Lone Survivor' set to SEAL an easy victory

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Two testosterone-fueled action pics will flex their muscles at the box office this weekend, but only one will win in this arm wrestling contest. Navy SEAL tale Lone Survivor is poised to become the year’s first breakout hit, while the Kellan Lutz vehicle The Legend of Hercules is set to become its first true bomb. Three Oscar contenders — August: Osage County, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Her — are all getting nationwide expansions as well. Here’s how the frame may play out:

1. Lone Survivor – $27 million
Mark Wahlberg has become a reliable box office draw in recent years, driving films like Contraband and 2 Guns to solid openings in the mid-$20 million range. The star’s new war film, based on the hugely popular book by former SEAL Marcus Luttrell, should have no trouble topping the box office in its first outing in wide release. Universal has played up Luttrell’s involvement in the film, showcasing it as a patriotic endeavor that re-creates the real story of the disastrous 2005 Afghanistan mission Operation Red Wings, which left only Luttrell alive.

Lone Survivor could play much like the last real-SEAL movie to storm the box office, Act of Valor, which opened with $24.5 million in 2012 en route to a $70 million total. Tracking for Lone Survivor, which cost Universal $40 million, is solid, and it should play very well in the heartland of America. Fandango reports that the Pete Berg-directed film accounts for 51 percent of all ticket sales heading into this weekend, and in over 2,700 theaters, Lone Survivor may pull in a strong $27 million — primarily from its core demographic of young men. READ FULL STORY

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