Box-Office Preview: Super Bowl Entries 'Project Almanac,' 'Loft' No Match for 'Sniper'

Steve Dietl
'The Loft'

Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer's racially charged drama 'Black or White' also opens.

Clint Eastwood's American Sniper is set to rule at the Super Bowl weekend box office, easily trouncing three new films braving a launch despite the NFL championship game: Project Almanac, Black or White and The Loft.

Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is expected to earn at least $35 million in its third weekend, pushing its domestic total to $250 million. And on Thursday or Friday, the Oscar-nominated film will eclipse Saving Private Ryan ($216.5 million) to become the No. 1 war-themed film of all time in North America, not accounting for inflation. (Sniper's domestic total through Wednesday was $213.4 million).

Theater attendance takes a big hit on Super Bowl Sunday, so it's no surprise that no high-profile titles are opening this weekend. Indeed, both Project Almanac and The Loft open after long delays.

Project Almanac, a found-footage thriller produced by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, is expected to fare the best of the trio with a modest debut in the $10 million to $12 million range from more than 2,800 theaters. Paramount Insurge is releasing the $12 million film, which also launches in select foreign markets.

Project Almanac follows a brilliant high school student and his friends as they uncover blueprints for a mysterious device that allows them to time travel. Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista and Virginia Gardner star. It was originally set to open a year ago, but Bay wanted to tinker with the movie.

Black or White, filmmaker Mike Binder's racially charged drama starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer, should follow with a debut in the $6 million to $9 million range from 1,700 theaters. Relativity acquired U.S. rights to the movie after its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and is releasing the film in association with IM Global and Sunlight Productions.

When no studio would make the $9 million film, Costner invested some of his own money in Black or White, which chronicles a bitter custody fight that ensues when a child's African-American grandmother (Spencer) insists that the child be raised by her son, the girl's father, and not by Costner's character, her maternal grandfather. Veteran indie player Cassian Elwes is among the film's executive producers.

The Loft, director Erik Van Looy's English-language remake of his 2008 Dutch film, may have trouble getting to $5 million. From Dark Castle Entertainment, the thriller was originally supposed to be distributed by Warner Bros. per its deal with Joel Silver's Dark Castle, but it moved to Universal when Silver pacted with that studio.

However, Open Road films subsequently announced it would release The Loft after Universal pulled the movie from its August 2014 release. The $14 million title, about a group of men who share a loft used for illicit affairs, stars James Marsden and Karl Urban, while Matthias Schoenaerts reprises his role from the original film. It rolls out in 1,800 locations.

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