Box-Office Preview: 'Lego Batman' Set to Spank 'Fifty Shades Darker'

'John Wick: Chapter 2' is also opening over the pre-Valentine's Day weekend.

Holy sweetheart, Batman!

In a sequel showdown, The Lego Batman Movie is widely expected to rule the pre-Valentine's Day domestic box office when opening Friday opposite Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick 2.

Tracking suggests Lego Batman will bow to north of $60 million for Warner Bros. Animation. More bullish box-office observers believe the spinoff will even approach or clear $70 million, considering The Lego Movie, directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, debuted to $69.1 million over the Feb. 7-9 weekend in 2014.

In Lego Batman, directed by Chris McKay, Will Arnett voices the role of the tiny Caped Crusader as the superhero tries to find himself and save Gotham City from a hostile takeover by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis). The voice cast also includes Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes.

Imax partnered with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment on the pic.

The forecast for Universal's Fifty Shades Darker isn't as rosy, at least in comparison to the record-breaking $85 million bow of Fifty Shades of Grey over the three-day Valentine's Day/Presidents Day weekend in 2014. Projections show the follow-up earning $30 million to $40 million in its U.S. debut.

At the time of Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James' books about an S&M-laced romance were a global sensation. Dubbed "mommy porn," the female-fueled pic saw women turn out in groups to watch it, much like the first Sex and the City film.

The sequel reunites Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as the characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, respectively, with James Foley assuming directing duties after James clashed with Fifty Shades of Grey helmer Sam Taylor-Johnson.

It doesn't help that Fifty Shades of Grey had the advantage of Valentine's Day landing on a Saturday night, as well as launching over the long Presidents Day weekend, which falls a week later this year. (Universal is counting on the sequel doing strong midweek business since Valentine's Day is Tuesday.)

The weekend's third new nationwide entry is Lionsgate's John Wick: Chapter 2, a male-fueled action film starring Keanu Reeves. Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane co-star in the movie, directed by Chad Stahelski.

Projections suggest John Wick 2 will debut as high as $20 million. The original film opened to $14.4 million in October 2014.

In terms of their Rotten Tomatoes scores, Lego Batman boasts a stellar 98 percent, followed by John Wick 2 with an impressive 95 percent. Fifty Shades Darker lags at 18 percent.

 

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