Box Office Preview: '22 Jump Street,' 'Dragon 2' Both Set to Prosper in Battle for No. 1

12:27 PM PST 06/11/2014 by Pamela McClintock, Rebecca Ford

The two films — going after entirely different audiences — could each open in the $50 million to $60 million range over Father's Day weekend; "How to Train Your Dragon 2" could prevail thanks to being the summer's first animated family film.

Box-office prospects are looking like a win-win for DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Sony/MGM's 22 Jump Street, both sequels to successful properties. To boot, both films are generating equally stellar reviews.

Seasoned observers believe the two films could each open in the $55 million to $60 million range over Father's Day weekend, while Fox, which releases DWA titles, and Sony are being more conservative, suggesting a number more in the $50 million range.

Dragon 2 could have plenty of upside, thanks to its status as the summer's first animated family film, and come out on top. Fox insiders caution, however, that it will have to compete with holdovers Maleficent and, to a lesser extent, The Fault in Our Stars, a hit among tweens and teenage girls.

Q&A: '22 Jump Street' Directors on a 'Lego Movie' Sequel, Kevin Reilly's Exit and Violence in Movies

The sequel opens at a critical time for Jeffrey Katzenberg's DWA, which has suffered a string of box-office misfires, including its most recent film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Dean DeBlois returned to direct Dragon 2, which follows the heroic Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his faithful dragon as they try to save the world from the power-hungry Drago. The voice cast also features Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill.

The first Dragon opened to $43.7 million in March 2010 on its way to earning $494.9 million globally. Dragon 2 opens in 20 international markets this weekend, including Russia. The animated film hopes to benefit by providing counterprogramming to the World Cup, which gets underway in Brazil on Friday.

22 Jump Street, returning Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as two bumbling undercover police officers, is the highest-testing R-rated comedy in Sony's history. And if its early performance overseas is any indication, the movie should enjoy a blockbuster opening (only a few R-rated comedies have ever opened north of $50 million; earlier this summer Neighbors almost hit that mark, but it wasn't a sequel).

FILM REVIEW: '22 Jump Street'

Last weekend, 22 Jump Street debuted to an eye-popping $8.1 million in the U.K. last weekend, compared to $2.5 million for 21 Jump Street, released in March 2012.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) directed the original and the sequel, which sees the title characters go undercover at a local college. Moviegoers between the ages of 17 and 34 are the most ardent fans of Jump Street, both females and males.

Released in March 2012, 21 Jump Street, the adaptation of the 1980s television series, debuted to $36.3 million on its way to grossing $201.6 million globally.

Fox's The Fault in Our Stars and Maleficent should both perform well in their second and third weeks, respectively. Fault, the cancer drama adapted from John Green's popular YA novel, earned $48 million in its domestic debut last weekend. The Angelina Jolie starrer Maleficent opened May 30, earning $69.4 million domestically in its debut, and had a solid hold to earn $34.3 million in its second week. 

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