Box-Office Preview: 'Mockingjay' to Rule Thanksgiving Roost Over 'Penguins,' 'Horrible Bosses 2'

The 'Horrible Bosses' sequel should benefit from being one of the few R-rated comedies to ever open over the family holiday

There's something for (mostly) everyone at the Thanksgiving box office.

New Line and Warner Bros.' R-rated comedy Horrible Bosses 2 will go after younger adults and older teens looking for a laugh, while Penguins of Madagascar, a spinoff of DreamWorks Animation's popular Madagascar franchise, hopes to nab families. Both begin rolling out Tuesday night in North America before playing everywhere on Wednesday, a popular day for moviegoing.

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The other main Thanksgiving attraction is a teaser trailer for J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The 88-second tease will begin playing Friday morning in 30 theaters across the country — before every showing of every movie.

In term of sheer might, holdover The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 should easily win the five-day turkey race with a gross in the $80 million range, including an estimated $50 million to $55 million for the weekend. Last Thanksgiving, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire likewise topped the holiday frame after opening the week before.

Jeffrey Katzenberg's DWA needs a box-office success, and while Penguins certainly won't match the $94.6 million grossed by Disney's Frozen last Thanksgiving, it should post a solid five-day gross in the $45 million-$47 million range, including a weekend take of $32 million to $34 million. (Disney's Big Hero 6 continues to hold well, however, and could take a bite out of Penguins.)

Directed by Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith, Penguins is voiced by John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Peter Stormare, Ken Jeong and Annet Mahendru.

Horrible Bosses 2 is looking like a clear winner for New Line and Warner Bros. The sequel, one of the few R-rated comedies to ever dare opening on Thanksgiving, could gross $35 million to $40 million for the five days, if not more. For the weekend itself, it could gross $23 million to $25 million. The first Horrible Bosses opened to $28.2 million in summer 2011 on its way to earning a stellar $209.6 million worldwide.

Directed this time out by Sean Anders (Sex Tape), Horrible Bosses 2 reteams most of the original cast, including Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, whose characters set out to start their own business, only to be swindled. Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz and Kevin Spacey also star.

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As awards season heats up, there's a slew of offerings for adults at the specialty box office including Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, which will be playing in roughly 700 theaters by Thanksgiving Day. Other awards contenders in the marketplace include holdovers Birdman, Foxcatcher, Whiplash and Boyhood, while The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Birdman, Boyhood and Whiplash could also enjoy a boost this weekend after scoring key Independent Spirit Nominations (Birdman lead with six noms).