Box Office Preview: Hollywood Expecting a Washout -- And Not From Hurricane Sandy

 Warner Bros. Pictures

The film business is bracing itself for a tough weekend at the domestic box office as four new films struggle to keep up with holdovers.

Hurricane Sandy -- nicknamed "Frankenstorm" -- shouldn't hurt moviegoing too much this weekend since it is not expected to strike the East Coast until early in the week, although that could change.

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In terms of risk, the $100 million Cloud Atlas -- starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry -- has the biggest exposure by far. The dreamy epic, based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, is tracking to gross in the $12 million to $15 milllion range, which may not be enough to beat Ben Affleck's Argo, which is showing a remarkable hold as it heads into its third weekend.

Both films are from Warner Bros., although the studio only has distribution rights to Cloud Atlas, which is one of the most ambitious independent productions ever mounted. Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tywker, the movie covered its budget through foreign presales, the deal with Warner Bros. and Germany money, among other sources.

Cloud Atlas, which is drawing mixed reviews, will need to make a strong showing overseas if it can't get a foothold at the North American box office. The film is opening in 2,002 theaters.

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The new Halloween horror offering is a sequel. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, distributed by Open Road Films, could likewise find itself in a close race with Cloud Atlas and Argo for the No. 1 spot. Samuel Hadida produced and financed the $20 million film, which looks to open notably behind the $20 million-plus opening of Silent Hill.

Revelation is the third horror pic to open in a row after Sinister and Paranormal Activity 4, both of which have done solid business.

Paramount's new offering this weekend is Halloween teen comedy Fun Size, which marks showrunner Josh Schwartz's feature directorial debut. The modestly budgeted film is tracking to open in the $8 million range, and cost $14 million to produce. A Paramount and Nickelodeon production, Fun Size is rated PG-13 (when the script was originally acquired by Paramount, the film was intended to be an R-rated comedy).

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Walden Media and 20th Century Fox's Gerard Butler surfing drama could be D.O.A. Directed by Curtis Hansen and Michael Apted, the film may struggle to crack $5 million. Chasing Mavericks, based on the real-life story of surfer Jay Moriarty, was co-financed by Fox and Walden for $20 million.

Walden is coming off another box office disappointment, school drama Won't Back Down, which it fully financed.

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