Box Office Preview: 'Hunger Games' Likely to Lord Over 'Wrath of the Titans,' 'Mirror Mirror'
Warners Bros.' "Clash of the Titans" sequel still expected to turn in a strong performance, while Relativity's Snow White project is going after family audiences and females; The Weinstein Co.'s R-rated doc "Bully" opens in New York and L.A.
The domestic box office should prosper in a big way this weekend as Warner Bros.' sequel Wrath of the Titans and Relativity Media's Snow White retelling Mirror Mirror enter the marketplace, which remains on fire thanks to holdover The Hunger Games.
Hunger Games is widely expected to retain the No. 1 spot in its second weekend. The Lionsgate pic -- based on the wildly popular young-adult book by Suzanne Collins -- has grossed $181.6 million in its first six days of play in North America, the sixth-best showing ever.
Hunger Games, which has eclipsed Dr. Seuss' The Lorax as the top-grossing film of 2012 year domestically, should cross $200 million on Friday (Lorax has earned $180.5 million). Box office observers believe the movie, which opened to a record $152.5 million last weekend, could gross north of $60 million in its second outing.
Wrath of the Titans is estimated to open in the $35 million-to-$40 million range. The 3D sequel returns Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in the lead roles and is directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
Louis Leterrier directed Clash of the Titans, which debuted just north of $61 million during Easter weekend in 2010. Warners doesn't expect the sequel to reach the same level, since this weekend isn't a holiday. But by opening a week before Easter, Warners can take advantage of spring break, which is staggered over the next two weeks.
In 2010, Warners was widely criticized for rushing to convert Clash of the Titans into 3D in order to boost its box-office potential. Wrath was also converted to 3D after it was shot, but the quality of the conversion was far superior, according to the studio.
Wrath of the Titans' theater count will include more than 290 Imax locations.
Mirror Mirror -- headlining Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer -- hopes to take advantage of being the only PG title in the marketplace until April 27, when Sony opens The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
Relativity is projecting an opening in the $22 milion-to-$25 million range for Mirror Mirror. The retelling of the classic fairy tale is an important property for Relativity as the company tries to produce its own films. Mirror Mirror, shot in Montreal, cost $80 million to make after rebates. Relativity sold off foreign rights and says its exposure on the production budget is $30 million (that doesn't include marketing costs).
Mirror Mirror is the first of two Snow White movies opening this year, though Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman, which opens in the summer, isn't a family film.
While Wrath of the Titans is tracking best among males, Mirror Mirror is skewing female.
At the specialty box office, all eyes will be on Lee Hirsch's high-profile documentary Bully, which received an R rating for language. The Weinstein Co. and Hirsch unsuccessfully fought to lower the film's rating to PG-13, saying the R rating will make it difficult for kids -- the very demo the documentary was made for -- to see it. So The Weinstein Co. opted to release Bully unrated.
The film opens this week in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, including two AMC locations. AMC CEO Gerry Lopez has been one of those supporting Bully, and the circuit will allow kids under 17 to see Bully as long as they have verbal or written permission.