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Box Office Preview: Heavyweight Toon Expansions Take on Struggling 'Oogieloves'

Oogieloves Film Still - H 2012
"The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure"

The independently distributed puppet pic opened to a dismal $102,564 on Wednesday.

The long Labor Day weekend will see Brave and The Avengers dramatically up their theater counts at the North American box office in an end-of-summer push.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted also is increasing its presence -- which, combined with Brave, will make life difficult for the independently distributed kids pic The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure.

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Oogieloves, directed by Matthew Diamond, opened to a dismal $102,564 from 2,160 theaters on Wednesday for a per-screen average of $47. Distributor Kenn Viselman, who was instrumental in bringing Teletubbies to American television, says the film will stay in that many theaters over the weekend.

Disney and Pixar's Brave, playing in 452 locations last weekend, will expand to 1,700 on Friday; ditto for Disney and Marvel's The Avengers, whose current theater count is 123. 

The Labor Day push isn't entirely unprecedented, at least in the case of Disney. Last year, Cars 2 also made a major expansion during the holiday weekend, grossing $1.8 million.

Box-office observers say Disney and Paramount are reacting this year to a soft marketplace in terms of new offerings. This weekend, Lawless, from The Weinstein Co., and Lionsgate's horror pic The Possession will battle it out for No. 1 with an expected four-day opening gross in the $12 million to $13 million range.

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Lawless, a Prohibition-era drama from Australian director John Hillcoat, opened Wednesday to a chart-topping $1.1 million. The film, starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke as moonshiner brothers, is based on Max Bondurant's novel The Wettest County in the World and was adapted by Nick Cave.

The anti-Barack Obama documentary 2016: Obama's America remains a wild card. The film continues to overperform and expands from roughly 1,091 theaters to more than 1,700 on Friday. The doc has grossed $12.3 million to date.