Box Office Preview: 'The Heat,' 'White House Down' Facing Close Battle

Columbia Pictures
"White House Down"

Sony's "White House Down" -- teaming Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx -- could mark one of the lowest openings for a Roland Emmerich tentpole; "Monsters University" may stay at No. 1 in its second outing.

Estrogen and testosterone face off at the domestic box office this weekend as two very different buddy films both eye a debut in the $30 million range.

In the male corner is Roland Emmerich's big-budget tentpole White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx as the president and Channing Tatum as a wannabe Secret Service agent. The two characters find themselves uniting after America's most famous residence is overrun by terrorists and the U.S. Capitol destroyed.

Appealing to the female set is The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock as a straight-laced FBI agent who is forced to team up with a crass Boston street cop played by Melissa McCarthy, one of Hollywood's hottest box-office stars. The 20th Century Fox film reteams McCarthy with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.

Disney and Pixar's Monsters University could beat both new films in its second weekend as it continues to wrangle the family-friendly crowd.

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White House Down, costing Sony $140 million to produce, could mark one of the lowest openings for a Roland Emmerich tentpole, particularly when accounting for inflation. In summer 2004, The Day After Tomorrow debuted to $68.7 million. Independence Day -- which also featured the destruction of the White House -- opened to $50.2 million in July 1996.

Part of the issue could be that White House Down comes out just three months after FilmDistrict's White House-under-seige film, Olympus Has Fallen. Nevertheless, Tatum and Foxx have sizable fan bases, and White House Down could overperform.

Its opening could also be affected by the glut of male-skewing product in the marketplace, with World War Z heading into its second weekend, and Man of Steel into its third.

The Heat was modestly budgeted, costing $43 million to produce.

Feig's Bridesmaids grossed $26.2 million in its domestic debut in May 2011. Becoming a female-friendly comedy hit, the film, which starred McCarthy along with Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, has gone on to gross $288.4 million to date worldwide.

The Heat is currently selling 50 percent more advanced tickets on Fandango than were sold at the same time in the sales cycle for Bridesmaids.

Monsters University, the prequel to 2001 hit Monsters, Inc., debuted in 4,004 theaters last weekend to earn $82.4 million, making it Pixar's second-highest opening ever behind 2010's Toy Story 3.