Box Office Preview: 'G.I. Joe' Eyeing Muscle-Bound $100 Million Global Bow
Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" and Tyler Perry's seductive thriller "Temptation" also debut over the Easter holiday weekend.
Getting an early jump on Easter weekend, filmmaker Jon M. Chu's action bonanza G.I. Joe: Retaliation rolls out in North America on Thursday, where it is expected to post a four-day debut in the $40 million to $45 million range.
Paramount also is opening the sequel -- with a cast led by franchise newcomers Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis -- in most international markets (75 percent) and is anticipating a global opening in the $100 million range.
Retaliation originally was set to open last summer, but the studio pushed back the release in order to convert it to 3D and refashion Channing Tatum's role. Originally, his character was killed off, but after the star's box-office status surged thanks to The Vow and 21 Jump Street, Paramount and its partners MGM and Skydance decided to make the character's fate more ambiguous.
Unless it overperforms, Retaliation won't match the $54.7 million domestic opening of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but that film was released during the summer play period in early August 2009. The film ultimately took in $150.2 million domestically and $152.3 million internationally for a total $302.5 million.
Paramount already is anticipating that Retaliation will hit $200 million internationally, notably more than the original.
The studio says it minimized its risk overall by keeping Retaliation's budget to roughly $130 million; Cobra cost at least $175 million. Paramount put up half the money for the sequel, while MGM and David Ellison's Skydance each put up a 25 percent share.
Easter weekend can be a strong frame for moviegoing, particularly on Good Friday and Saturday.
Opening on Good Friday are writer-director Tyler Perry's Temptation -- a marked departure from the filmmaker's comedic fare -- and director Andrew Niccol's sci-fi thriller The Host, adapted from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's novel. Each is expected to open in the $15 million-to-$20 million range.
The Host, starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Jake Abel, is being distributed by Open Road Films on behalf of producers Nick Wechsler, Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz and Inferno Entertainment. Meyer also is a producer and has tirelessly promoted the project, which marks her first post-Twilight outing.
Host, set in a society where parasitic aliens known as "Souls" inhabit humans, is appealing primarily to females (Meyer's fan base). The story follows a "Soul" who finds it impossible to entirely banish the human girl she inhabits.
Temptation, from Lionsgate, stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights) as a restless marriage counselor who begins a dangerous affair with a mogul. Smollett-Bell stars opposite Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams and Robbie Johns.
Lionsgate targeted women and African-Americans in marketing the film. The studio also took advantage of Kardashian's celebrity profile.
It is the fourth Perry film that Lionsgate has released over Easter weekend.