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With four new wide releases hitting theaters this weekend, Hollywood is staging something of a spring clearance before the first of the presumptive summer blockbusters, The Avengers, descends on multiplexes May 4.
Of the new entries, Universal’s romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement is showing the most box-office potential, though it’s not expected to dislodge Sony/Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man from the top spot it claimed when it opened to $33.6 million last weekend.
The R-rated Engagement, which is bowing in 2,936 theaters in North America, is looking to attract younger females with an opening in the low-teen millions. That probably would put it in the second spot, since even if Man, the African-American ensemble comedy directed by Tim Story, falls by 50 percent, it would still gross a figure in the high-teen millions.
Engagement, a $30 million production on which Universal partnered with Relativity, reunites many of the principals from 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which opened to $17.7 million. Jason Segel again stars – this time teaming up with Emily Blunt as they play a couple enduring a long-term engagement. Segel, who wrote Marshall, co-wrote Engagement with Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, who also helmed the new film. The comedy also bears the imprimatur of the prolific Judd Apatow, who served as one of its producers.
In a play for younger audiences, Sony is taking over 3,358 theaters, the widest opening of the weekend, for its PG animated movie The Pirates! Band of Misfits. From Britain’s Aardman Animations, which created last year’s Arthur Christmas, the movie features a voice cast that includes Hugh Grant as its Pirate Captain and Salma Hayek as Cutlass Liz. The movie also is expected to open in the low-teen million range, which could be quite crowded since Warners’ romance The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron, which opened to $22.5 million last weekend, also should occupy the low-teen million territory in its second weekend.
Likely to debut in the $8 million-$10 million range is The Raven, from Relativity, which will set down in 2,203 locations. The R-rated period thriller directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) stars John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. The writer is drafted to help pursue a serial killer who is taking cues from Poe’s own stories.
Rounding out the new arrivals is the Jason Statham action movie Safe, from writer-director Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans). In his newest R-rating outing, set in New York, Statham plays a former Black Ops supercop trying to protect a young Chinese girl from pursuing Russian and Chinese gangsters. Statham’s previous film, Killer Elite, opened to $9.3 million in September, and this new one, which Lionsgate is releasing in 2,266 theaters, is expected to bow in the $6 million-$8 million range.
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