Johnny Depp's 'Rango' Could Score Best Box-Office Debut of Year So Far

"Rango"
"Rango"
 Paramount Pictures

Will an animated chameleon be the one to chase away the box-office blues?

Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount's Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp, is expected to score the best debut of the year when rolling out Friday in 3,917 theaters.

Most believe that Rango -- reteaming Depp with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski -- will gross north of $40 million for the weekend (the pic isn't in 3D). More sophisticated than most toons, the film should draw adults as well as families.

Rango, which cost $135 million to produce, opens day and date in a slew of territories overseas, including the U.K.

About a chameleon who winds up in the Old West, Rango sports a voice cast that also includes Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Timothy Olyphant and Bill Nighy. It is the first animated film made by George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic.

Universal's sci-fi romantic thriller The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is likewise tracking well. It opens in 2,840 locations.

Box-office observers think Adjustment Bureau has a good chance of crossing $20 million, although Universal is playing it safe and predicting an opening in the high- to mid-teens, considering how soft the domestic box office has been.

Universal acquired Adjustment Bureau from Media Rights Capital for $62 million and expects the film to be fueled by the same older moviegoers who have turned a number of recent adult-themed films, including True Gritand The King's Speech, into box-office hits.

Universal is comparing Adjustment Bureau to The Time Traveler's Wife, which opened to $18.6 million, and Premonition, which earned $17.6 million in its debut.

Adjustment Bureauwas helmed and written by George Nolfi in his directorial debut and is based on the short story by sci-fi master Philip K. Dick. The film also stars Anthony Mackie and Terence Stamp.

Overseas, Adjustment Bureau opens day and date in 21 countries.

Among holdovers, observers will be tracking The King's Speech to see what kind of bump the Weinstein Co. release gets after winning four Oscars, including best picture.

The two other films opening this weekend -- CBS Films' Beastly and Relativity Media's raunchy R-rated comedy Take Me Home Tonight -- are expected to post much softer openings.

Beastly, a retelling of the classic fairy tale The Beauty and the Beast, stars Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer and is based on the 2007 book by Alex Flinn. Films based on fairy tales are Hollywood's latest obsession, with a number of projects in the works. And on March 11, Warner Bros. opens the Amanda Seyfried starrer Red Riding Hood, directed by Twilight's Catherine Hardwicke.

Beastly, going out in 1,952 theaters, was originally intended to open in July, but its release was shifted twice (in part to piggyback on Pettyfer's I Am Number Four, which opened two weeks ago).

In marketing Beastly, CBS Films has targeted girls ages 11-17. Its exposure on the pic, which cost $17 million to produce, was minimized by selling off foreign rights.

Take Me Home Tonight, previously titled Kids in America, stars Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Teresa Palmer.

Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh inherited the project when acquiring Rogue Pictures from Universal and paid $10 million for distribution rights.

Take Me Home was penned by Jackie and Jeff Filgo (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, That '70s Show).

There are several limited openings, including Josh Radnor's HappyThankYouMorePlease, which Anchor Bay debuts in two theaters in L.A. and New York more than a year after the pic debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

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