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Box Office Report: Action Pic '2 Guns' Earns $1.3 Million Thursday Night

2 Guns Horizontal - H 2013
"2 Guns"

The movie marks the first time that Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington have appeared together on the big screen; "The Smurfs 2" grosses $4.3 million Thursday, tying with "The Wolverine" for No. 1.

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur's 2 Guns earned $1.3 million as it began rolling out Thursday night in North America, hoping to gross north of $20 million for the weekend.

The action comedy -- pairing Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington for the first time -- is the latest summer film to tie its fortunes primarily to males. It's also expected to appeal to African-American moviegoers.

Universal, which is distributing the movie in the U.S., is predicting a North American debut in the low-$20 million range (Entertainment One is handling distribution in Canada); more bullish box-office observers believe it could hit $30 million. At those numbers, 2 Guns would debut in line with other genre pics the two actors have appeared in.

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The R-rated action pic, infused with a heavy dose of humor, cost between $80 million and $90 million to produce, although the net budget was $61 million after tax incentives. Emmett/Furla Films financed and produced the film, with Foresight Unlimited handling international rights. The film project generated huge interest among foreign distributors, with Sony Worldwide Acquisitions Group buying rights to much of the world.

2 Guns revolves around a DEA agent (Washington) and Naval intelligence officer (Wahlberg) who must work together after they are set up by the CIA.

Wahlberg and Kormakur first worked together on action pic Contraband, which debuted to $24.3 million in January 2012.

It remains to be seen whether 2 Guns can beat Sony's The Smurfs 2 for the three-day weekend at the domestic box office. Smurfs 2, rolling out on Wednesday, all but tied with The Wolverine for the No. 1 spot on Thursday as each film took in $4.3 million.

Smurfs 2, which has earned $9.5 million in its first two days, is anticipating a five-day debut in the $30 million range and a three-day gross north of $20 million as Hollywood continues to suffer a glut of family product. 

Two weeks ago, Turbo opened to $5.6 million on its way to a softish five-day debut of $31 million. One advantage Smurfs 2 has is that megahit Despicable Me 2 is further into its run. The movie also should be helped by an A- CinemaScore.

But it remains to be seen whether Smurfs 2 can match the $35.6 million earned by The Smurfs in its first three days when it opened in late July 2011. Either way, Sony is counting more on the sequel's international prospects considering the first film took in a stunning $421.1 million from overseas (75 percent of the film's global haul of $563.7 million).

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Based on the comic book series created by the Belgian artist Peyo, Smurfs 2 is the second title in a planned trilogy (The Smurfs 3 is set for summer 2015). The sequel sees all of the main cast returning, with Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria reprising their live-action roles. Jonathan Winters, who died this spring, and Katy Perry lead the voice cast, while Raja Gosnell returns to the director's chair.

Hollywood has never opened so many family films in a single summer. This season boasts Epic, Monsters University, Despicable 2, Turbo, Smurfs 2 and Planes, which hits theaters in two weeks (there's also the Percy Jackson sequel, although that will skew older).