Box Office Preview: Can 'Dolphin Tale 2,' 'No Good Deed' Save the Day?

James Gandolfini's final film, 'The Drop,' also debuts in select theaters this weekend

Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros.' family film Dolphin Tale 2 and Screen Gems' thriller No Good Deed hope to restore some semblance of order at the North American box office after the worst weekend since just after 9/11.

Both movies open nationwide Friday and could find themselves in a close race for No. 1 in terms of the weekend crown. Last weekend, domestic box-office revenue clocked in at just $64.7 million, the lowest since September 2011.

Dolphin Tale 2 is hoping to hit $20 million or more, opening exactly three years after Dolphin Tale launched to $19.2 million on its way to earning $95.4 million worldwide. Both movies center around Winter, the real-life dolphin rescued by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, and her two young human friends, played by Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff (the actual Winter stars in both films).

This time out, the trio befriend a baby dolphin, Hope. The film also tells the story of Mandy, a rehabilitated dolphin released back into the wild. Charles Martin Smith returned to direct Dolphin Tale 2, reuniting with stars Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson. Newcomers include Lee Karlinsky, Julia Jordan and surfer Bethany Hamilton, playing herself.

Dolphin Tale cost roughly $36 million to produce.

Box-office observers are somewhat divided as to No Good Deed's potential. Some have the $13 million movie, starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, opening in the mid- to high-teen range, while others think it could cross $20 million and edge out Dolphin Tale 2.

Will Packer, the force behind the Think Like a Man series, Ride Along and Obsessed, produced No Good Deed along with Lee Clay. Elba also starred in Obsessed, which debuted to $28.8 million, while Henson is a lead in the Think Like a Man franchise.

Directed by Sam Miller (Luther), No Good Deed stars Henson as a district attorney turned stay-at-home mom living an ideal life in the suburbs until a charming convict (Elba) shows up at her door. Kate del Castillo and Henry Simmons co-star.

The specialty box office sees several high-profile openings, including Fox Searchlight and Chernin Entertainment's The Drop, which marks the final film from the late James Gandolfini, The Weinstein Co.'s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Roadside Attractions' The Skeleton Twins.

Directed by Michael R. Roskam, The Drop made its world premiere last weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. The crime drama, opening in more than 500 theaters, stars Gandolfini opposite Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.

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