'Megamind' Eyes Mega-Bucks in Box Office Bow

7:47 PM PST 11/04/2010 by Carl DiOrio

VIDEO: 'Due Date' and 'For Colored Girls,' which also open wide Friday, are expected to fall short of the 3D animated feature.

DreamWorks Animation's 3D animated feature Megamind should make mega-bucks at the box office starting Friday.

Surging prerelease interest puts the comedy on track to open with more than $50 million in domestic box office, with core family support joined by 3D-animation fans and date-movie couples.

Though likely to fall short of the $70.8 million debut in May for DWA's Shrek Forever After, Megamind should open considerably north of the $43.7 million bow by the Jeffrey Katzenberg-led company's How to Train Your Dragon in March. Those 3D animated releases went on to domestic runs of $238.4 million and $217.6 million, respectively, so the leggy nature of 3D releasing also bodes well for Megamind.

Set for more than 2,600 3D locations, including 195 Imax sites, Megamind will enjoy almost 4,000 total playdates.

"Jeffrey feels strongly that you have to have enough distribution to give the families a chance to attend the cheaper 2D theaters," a studio insider noted.

Tom McGrath (Madagascar) directed a voice cast featuring Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill and Tina Fey in the PG-rated pic, whose production costs totaled roughly $140 million.

"Our tracking indicates Megamind will appeal to families and kids, and we've done our best to position it as the 3D event film for this weekend and throughout the holiday season," DWA marketing maven Anne Globe said. "That said, there are two other wide releases debuting."

That pair boasts more modest -- but still substantial -- box-office ambitions.

The Todd Phillips-helmed Due Date, the R-rated comedy from Warner Bros. starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, debuts in 3,355 theaters and should fetch $30 million or so through Sunday. Lionsgate's Tyler Perry-directed drama For Colored Girls -- a big-screen adaptation of Ntozake Shange's play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf -- unspools with more than 2,100 playdates and could collect $20 million in its first three days.

Co-financed by Legendary Pictures, Due Date targets younger adults and should skew a bit male in the fashion of Phillips' The Hangover, a $45 million opener in June 2009 that went on to rake in $227 million domestic.

"Robert, Zach and Todd Phillips provide the right chemistry for a winning weekend," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said.

Similarly, Colored Girls will key in large part on its popular cast and director. But it's likely to find its strongest support in urban theaters and should skew toward older moviegoers.

"In addition to Tyler's core audience, we're going after fans who are familiar with the play," Lionsgate distribution topper David Spitz said. "We feel this could be the Sex and the City for African-American women."

A grittier sort of pic than the typical Perry dramedy, Colored Girls features a large ensemble cast that includes Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg and Macy Gray. More than 2,100 theaters are set to play the R-rated pic.

Among the session's limited openings, Summit Entertainment and E1 Films have 45 engagements lined up in about two dozen markets for the facts-based political drama Fair Game, which stars Naomi Watts as CIA operative Valerie Plame and Sean Penn as her politically active husband.

Fox Searchlight has scheduled two New York playdates and two in L.A. for another film inspired by a true story -- Danny Boyle's mountain-climbing survival drama 127 Hours, starring James Franco.

On an industrywide basis, the weekend will be compared with a $140 million session last year that was topped by the $65.2 million bow of Sony's sci-fi actioner 2012.

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