Box-Office Preview: 'Expendables 3,' 'The Giver' to Battle 'TMNT'

1:46 PM PST 08/14/2014 by Pamela McClintock

Also in the mix is 'Let's Be Cops,' which got an early jump by opening Wednesday

The late-August crush sees three new films vie for attention at the North American box office this weekend, although none may be able to topple holdover Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the top spot.

The Expendables 3 is the biggest question mark. In addition to potential franchise fatigue, a pristine copy of the movie leaked on the Internet earlier this month will no doubt hurt box-office returns, similar to what happened with The Wolverine. The weekend's other new offerings are the R-rated comedy Let's Be Cops, which got a jump on the competition by opening Wednesday, and YA film adaptation The Giver.

A trio of specialty films all but expand nationwide: Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight, Richard Linklater's indie hit Boyhood and Daniel Radcliffe romantic comedy What If. Magic in the Moonlight will be playing in a total of 964 theaters, while the other two will be in more than 750.

Prerelease tracking suggests Expendables 3, featuring a multigenerational lineup of action stars, will debut in the $20 million to $25 million range, a franchise low. The first Expendables opened to $34.8 million on the same weekend in August 2010, followed by $28.6 million for the sequel in August 2012.

TMNT is expected to gross at least $30 million in its second weekend.

The Expendables series is the brainchild of Sylvester Stallone and Avi Lerner, whose Nu Image/Millennium Films partnered with Lionsgate on the series. The films have generally cost in the $90 million range to produce and have done especially big business overseas. Expendables 2 took in $220.4 million internationally, compared to $85 million in North America.

This time out, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham) and other team members battle villain Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). The sprawling cast includes Harrison FordKellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Randy Couture, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Terry Crews, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz and Robert Davi.

Millennium and Lionsgate's aggressive marketing campaign for the threequel, which will be playing in 3,221 theaters domestically, included a major stunt at the Cannes Film Festival in May that saw the cast roll down the Croisette in tanks.

Going after younger moviegoers and faith-based audiences is The Giver, directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Lois Lowry's 1993 YA novel of the same name. More than two decades in the making, the $30 million film was co-financed and co-produced by The Weinstein Co. and Walden Media.

The Giver, starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites, is expected to debut in the mid-teens and will be playing in roughly 3,003 locations.

Buddy action comedy Let's Be Cops, starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson, is already off to a strong start, earning $5.2 million Wednesday for a projected five-day debut in the $26 million to $28 million range. The 20th Century Fox film cost a modest $17 million to make and earned a B CinemaScore.

Directed by Luke Greenfield, Let's Be Cops follows two friends who pretend to be Los Angeles police officers. Andy Garcia, Nina Dobrev, Rob Riggle, Keegan-Michael Key and James D'Arcy also star. It is playing in 2,936 locations.

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