Box Office Preview: 'Puss in Boots,' 'Adventures of Tintin' Set to Rule the World

"Puss in Boots"
"Puss in Boots"
 DreamWorks Animation SKG

Steven Spielberg and longtime compatriot Jeffrey Katzenberg are poised to dominate the worldwide box office this weekend with their two respective family films, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and Puss in Boots.

From Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation, Puss in Boots is all but set to the win the domestic box-office race as Paramount opens the 3D toon in 3,952 theaters in North America, including 2,827 3D locations.

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Box office observers expect the Shrek spin-off to gross in the $35-$39 million range, a healthy number for Halloween weekend, which isn’t usually prime territory for a family film. Puss in Boots, which is earning glowing reviews, has a clear shot at besting the top Halloween opening of all time, the $33.6 million earned by Lionsgate's Saw III in 2006.

Paramount originally intended to open Puss in Boots, featuring Antonio Banderas in the voice role he made so popular in Shrek, on Nov. 4, but moved up the release by a week to give the pic more breathing room before a deluge of Thanksgiving family titles open.

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While Paramount and DreamWorks Animation could forfeit some business this weekend because of Halloween, they believe the movie will have an especially strong second weekend. DWA’s Kung Fu Panda 2 opened to $47.7 million earlier this year, while Megamind debuted to $46 million in early November 2010.

Tintin, directed by Spielberg, is poised to dominate the international marketplace, where it could open north of $30 million from its first key territories, including Tintin’s home country of Belgium. The pic is Spielberg's first 3D film.

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Tintin is the first of two films that Spielberg and Peter Jackson are collaborating on (Jackson will direct the second title). Paramount and Sony are partners on the project and dividing up distribution duties. Because the character Tintin is much more beloved overseas, the film is rolling out there first. It debuts in the U.S. over the Christmas holiday.

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Tintin began playing in previews earlier this week in Belgium, France and the U.K. before an official opening on Wednesday in the three territories. It has already grossed nearly $9 million, including a record-breaking $4.5 million in France, where it could score the biggest opening of all time after Avatar.

The 3D motion-capture movie opens on Friday in a number of other foreign markets.

At the domestic box office, two other wide players debut: New Regency’s Justin Timberlake-Amanda Seyfried sci-fi thriller In Time and FilmDistrict’s Johnny Depp starrer The Rum Diary, based on Hunter S. Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel about his early days as a journalist in Puerto Rico.

However, Paramount's Paranormal Activity 3 will likely beat both new entries for No. 2 after opening to a record-breaking $52.6 million last weekend, and grossing $60.5 million through Wednesday.

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Distributed by Fox, In Time is looking at a relatively modest opening in the low teens. The movie, directed by Andrew Niccol, was fully financed and produced by New Regency for roughly $35 million.

In Time, set in a society where no one lives beyond the age of 25 unless they can buy time, is understandably tracking best among moviegoers under the age of 25, a demo that has been largely absent at the box office.

While critics have noted the film’s original storyline, the reviews overall haven’t been good.

Rum Diary has been drawing better notices, but they are still mixed. FilmDistrict expects the pic to open in the $9-$12 million range, and says it should appeal to both Depp fans as well as followers of Thompson, who turned up in force at various college screenings of the film, including at Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley.

There’s a flurry of activity at the specialty box office, including the debut of Roland Emmerich’s period Shakespeare drama Anonymous, which opens in 260 theaters. At the 11th hour, based on soft tracking, Sony decided to scale back the release of the film, which had been set to open nationwide.

Paramount opens Drake Doremus’ Sundance Film Festival favorite Like Crazy in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. 

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