Box-Office Preview: 'Godzilla' Hopes to Scale $65 Million Debut

5:09 AM PST 05/15/2014 by Pamela McClintock

UPDATED: Legendary Pictures and partner Warner Bros. hope to launch a new franchise based on the iconic giant lizard; Jon Hamm's sports drama "Million Dollar Arm" is looking at a more modest opening.

The summer's second tentpole, Godzilla, could stomp past $65 million in its North American debut, a promising start for the $160-million monster movie.

Godzilla, hoping to finally launch a Hollywood studio franchise headlined by the giant lizard, is a defining moment for Legendary Pictures, which spearheaded the reboot. Legendary financed 75 percent of Godzilla, with Warner Bros. putting up the rest of the money.

REVIEW: 'Godzilla'

Warners and Legendary are also opening Godzilla in 60 international markets this weekend (box-office observers believe the movie could do even bigger business overseas).

An origins story, director Gareth Edwards' Godzilla tries to remain true to the iconic Japanese Godzilla movies made by Japan's Toho studio.

Godzilla stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn.

Warners and Legendary believe the ensemble cast, and particularly Cranston, will help to lure females. According to those with access to tracking, males are by far the most keen to see the film, but interest among females is solid.

REVIEW: 'Million Dollar Arm'

Godzilla opens 16 years after Sony unsuccessfully tried to launch its own franchise with Roland Emmerich's Godzilla, starring Matthew Broderick.

The only other film opening nationwide this weekend is Disney's Million Dollar Arm, starring Jon Hamm as a sports agent who travels to India to recruit baseball pitchers. The studio believes the $25 million film, rated PG, will draw families and serve as counterprogramming to action-oriented fare. Million Dollar Arm is eyeing a modest opening in the $10 million to $12 million range.

Directed by Craig Gillespie from a script by Tom McCarthy, Million Dollar Arm is based on the true story of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. The movie also stars Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Alan Arkin and Lake Bell.

Million Dollar Arm will likely lose the No. 2 spot to holdover Neighbors, Universal's R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne. The move opened to a dazzling $49 million last weekend and has earned $58 million through Tuesday.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2, heading into its third weekend, crossed the $150 million mark in North America on Tuesday and should finish the weekend with a global cumulative well north of $600 million.

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