'Toy Story 3' eyes sky-high boxoffice return

VIDEO: 'Jonah Hex' starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox opens

Disney's "Toy Story 3" could give the summer boxoffice a second big booster shot in as many weeks if industry expectations become marketplace reality.

The 3D threequel, which opens Friday in more than 4,000 theaters, featuring 2,000-plus 3D screens, surely will top the domestic boxoffice. Potent prerelease interest suggests a weekend haul of as much as $100 million, which would be the biggest opening for a Pixar-produced movie.

Coming one frame after Sony's "The Karate Kid" outpaced projections by more than $20 million, a lively "Toy 3" debut would help the season's early lackluster grosses fade from memory. But not all the theatrical news will be positive: Warner Bros.' DC Comics-spawned "Jonah Hex" is unlikely to bow with as much as a bronze medal and could hand the studio a second summer disappointment after "Sex and the City 2."

The G-rated "Karate" should ring up $25 million or more in its sophomore session, despite family-audience overlap with the Disney opener, and even Fox's underperforming "The A-Team" is expected to fetch more in its second frame than "Hex" will lasso in its first. Starring Josh Brolin in the title role of a Western bounty hunter, the R-rated "Hex" is struggling under a fanboy hex after taking creative liberties in making the leap to the big screen.

Fansite posts have derided aspects of the pic's story line and character development, and tracking data shows "Hex" opening with $8 million-$10 million.

"While I wish the tracking was stronger, sometimes it's hard to read," Warners distribution boss Dan Fellman said. "We'll just have to wait and see how it shapes up."

Produced for a relatively modest $35 million, "Hex" was co-financed and co-produced by Legendary Pictures.

Meanwhile, though a nine-figure opening isn't guaranteed, it's hard to see "Toy 3" -- the long-dormant franchise's first extra-dimensional installment -- failing to notch Pixar's best debut.

"Toy Story 2" staged bicoastal exclusives before launching wide in November 1999 with $57.3 million and ultimately ringing up $245.9 million domestically; "Toy Story" unspooled in November 1995 with $29.1 million, en route to a $191.8 million domestic haul. "The Incredibles" is the best-bowing Pixar release to date, debuting with $70.5 million in May 2004 en route to $261.4 million in total U.S. and Canadian coin.

"Disney/Pixar has opened 10 consecutive successful films, and after this weekend they will be 11-for-11," Disney distribution topper Chuck Viane said.

But though success is certain, it's tougher to project the precise proportions of its bow. Family films are particularly hard to forecast, as parents-with-kids tend to be impulsive lot as moviegoers.

"Think about the parents who try to plan their kids' week in the summer, when every day is a holiday," Viane said. "But when every day is a holiday, that's really, really good for a film and its studio, in any event."

Industrywide, this Father's Day weekend will be compared with last year's $151 million session topped by the $33.6 million bow of Disney's romantic comedy "The Proposal."

Year-to-date boxoffice is up 3%, at $4.68 billion.
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