In the latest test of Adam Sandler‘s star status, Sony’s Pixels is expected to open in the mid-$20 million range at the North American box office this weekend, a low-key start for the $90 million all-audience tentpole.
Pixels, filmmaker Christopher Columbus‘ love letter to the video games of 1980s, will battle holdovers Ant-Man and Minions for the top spot domestically, since all three are going after families. Pixels hopes to make a bigger mark overseas, where it is debuting day and date in 47 markets.
In North America, the big wild card of the weekend is John Green‘s YA film adaptation Paper Towns. The Fox movie hopes to cross $20 million, but could easily overperform if it energizes its fanbase, young girls.
Last summer, The Fault in Our Stars debuted to a stunning $48 million for Fox and Green. However, that book was more popular than Paper Towns, while the film adaptation of Fault boasted a bigger star in Shailene Woodley. Like Fault, Paper Towns, starring Natt Wolff and Cara Delevingne, cost a modest $12 million to produce.
Pixels, costing $90 million to make after rebates, hopes to appeal heavily to families, but is targeting all demos. Sony co-financed with LStar Capital and China Group, with Sandler’s Happy Madison and Columbus’ 1492 Pictures producing.
In the movie, aliens attack earth using 1980s videogames as the mode of their attacks, including PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Galaga, Frogger Q*bert and Space Invaders. Sandler stars alongside Kevin James, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad. They play a group of men who who haunted video arcades as kids, and now have to test their skills for real. Michelle Monaghan plays a specialist who supplies them with weapons.
The weekend’s third new nationwide offering is director Antoine Fuqua‘s boxing drama Southpaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer who finds success with the gloves on but is having major issues in his personal life. Rachel McAdams, Rita Ora, Forest Whitaker, Naomie Harris and 50 Cent co-star. The script was written by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter.
Southpaw is expecting to open in the low-teens, a solid start for the adult-skewing drama. The Weinstein Co. co-financed and produced the movie, which cost under $30 million to make.