Box Office Preview: 'Brave' to Slay 'Abraham Lincoln' With About $60 Million

5:19 PM PST 06/21/2012 by Pamela McClintock
2011 Disney/Pixar

The animated tentpole could hit $60 million in another win for Pixar; 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' expecting $15 million-$20 million opening, while the indie pic "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is eyeing $5 million-$7 million.

Vampires and America's greatest president will be no match for a redheaded Scottish princess at the domestic box office this weekend.

Pixar and Disney's Brave is on course to easily best 20th Century Fox's fantasy epic Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as well as smaller indie player Seeking a Friend at the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.

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Brave will play in a total of 4,164 theaters, the widest release ever for a Pixar title. The majority of those runs, 2,790, will be in 3D.

Most box-office observers are predicting a solid $55 million to $60 million opening for Brave -- the first Pixar title to feature a female heroine -- while some believe it could land in the $62 million range. That's lower than many of the company's titles, though Ratatouille only grossed $47 million in its debut yet went on to cume $206.4 million domestically.

The biggest question for Brave is how much sway it will have over boys. The storyline centers on the talented archer Merida, who makes a reckless choice that imperils her kingdom and forces her to set things right. Disney has specifically targeted the male demo by playing up the film's action.

Brave is the summer's second animated event pic after Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, from DreamWorks Animation and Paramount. Madagascar 3, benefiting from a pent-up demand for family product, opened to a sizable $60.3 million two weeks ago and has ruled the domestic box office since.

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Pixar's previous film, Cars 2, debuted to $66.1 million on the same weekend a year ago. Among other Pixar entries, WALL-E opened to $63.1 million in summer 2008 and Up to $68.1 million in 2009. 

Abraham Lincoln is eyeing a debut in the $15 million to $20 million range. Fox won a heated bidding war for the project, which was shopped by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, executive producer Tim Burton and writer Seth Grahame-Smith, upon whose book the film is based.

The movie is an important test for Bekmambetov, who hasn't made a movie since Wanted in 2008. That film became a box office sensation, grossing $341.5 million worldwide.

Abraham Lincoln, adapted for the big screen by Grahame-Smith and Simon Kinberg, also is an important test for what's called the "mashup" genre (Graham-Smith's book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is being developed into a film by Lionsgate).

In Abraham Lincoln, President Lincoln lives a secret life as a vampire hunter, a cause he's been dedicated to since his mother was killed by the undead. The problem is even bigger now, with vampires intent on taking over the United States.

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Abraham Lincoln stars Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and cost close to $70 million to produce. It's tracking best among younger males, followed by older males.

Directed and written by Lorene Scafaria, Seeking a Friend is predicted to open in the $5 million to $7 million range. Indian Paintbrush produced the film, with Focus Features distributing domestically.

The indie film, which only goes out in 1,618 runs, cost $5 million to produce. The plot revolves around Dodge (Carell), who hits the road in search of his high school sweetheart after news breaks that a laser sent into space to prevent an asteroid from hitting Earth has failed. He's accompanied on the journey by Penny (Knightley).

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