Box-Office Preview: 'Anchorman 2' to Stay Classy With $30 Million Weekend

Will Ferrell and the gang return to theaters Wednesday, more than nine years after the first comedy hit the big screen.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues launches into theaters Wednesday, bringing back to the big screen the mustachioed news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his gang of oddball colleagues.

The PG-13 comedy, which Paramount is releasing in 3,500 locations, is tracking for $30 million for the three-day weekend and $40 million to $45 million for the five-day window. That total would put the sequel on par or just ahead of its predecessor, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which hit theaters more than nine years ago.

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The first film opened in North America in July 2004, earning $28.4 million in its debut for the No. 2 spot behind Spider-Man 2. It went on to gross $90.6 million worldwide.

For comparison, Anchorman 2 is tracking a bit behind Little Fockers, which opened Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, earning $30 million for the three-day weekend and $45 million for the five-day weekend. Paramount expects Anchorman to play slightly younger than that Ben Stiller-starring comedy, however.

As with many films that open during the holiday season, Anchorman 2 is likely to enjoy huge multiples as people get time off for the holidays and head to the theaters.

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Paramount has curated a comprehensive promotional tour for the sequel, with Ferrell playing his quirky yet confident character in commercials (for the Dodge Durango), on TV shows (Conan) and at hyper-local events like a curling competition in Winnipeg and a North Dakota newscast. Ben & Jerry's even released an Anchorman-inspired flavor called "Scotchy Scotch Scotch."

The sequel, which sees the return of Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Christina Applegate while adding newcomers James Marsden, Harrison Ford and Kristen Wiig, follows the news team as they make the transition from San Diego to New York. Adam McKay returns to direct from a script he co-wrote with Ferrell.

From Gary Sanchez and Apatow Productions, Anchorman 2, which had a budget of $50 million, has received mostly favorable reviews so far, with a 75 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from top critics. 

The other new wide release this weekend will be Fox's Walking With Dinosaurs, which opens on Friday. Sony's American Hustle, which had a strong limited release in six theaters last week, expands wide to more than 2,500 theaters Friday. Disney's Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, also expands to more than 2,200 locations on Friday.

Also opening Wednesday in limited release is Spike Jonze's Her starring Joaquin Phoenix. Warner Bros. is releasing the awards contender in six theaters this weekend.

Twitter: @Beccamford