Box-Office Preview: Will 'Pompeii' Get Buried?

UPDATED: The Kevin Costner spy thriller "3 Days to Kill" also opens Friday, although "The Lego Movie" should have no trouble beating both new films.

Paul W.S. Anderson's 3D disaster movie Pompeii could find itself quickly buried in ash at the North American box office, where The Lego Movie is poised to stay at No. 1 for its third weekend.

Pompeii is expected to open south of $15 million, a dismal start considering the movie's $100 million-plus budget. Germany's Constantin Films fully financed Pompeii, resulting in limited financial exposure for TriStar, which is releasing the film domestically per its deal with FilmDistrict. FilmDistrict paid for marketing.

Set in 79 A.D., Pompeii recounts the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman city. Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jessica Lucas star alongside Jared Harris and Kiefer Sutherland.

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Constantin is hopeful that the historical epic will do strong business internationally, where it opens in 30 markets this weekend (Constantin sold off foreign rights to independent distributors).

The weekend's second new film is McG's 3 Days to Kill, a spy action-thriller starring Kevin Costner. The $28 million film was co-financed and co-produced by Relativity Media and EuropaCorp (Relativity is releasing 3 Days to Kill in the U.S.).

Pre-release tracking suggests 3 Days to Kill will debut in the $11 million to $13 million range, similar to Pompeii. However, 3 Days to Kill cost far less to make.

Based on a story by EuropaCorp's Luc Besson, 3 Days to Kill stars Costner as an international spy looking to give up his dangerous lifestyle and repair his relationships with his daughter and his wife. But first, he must complete one last mission, even as he looks after his teenage daughter for the first time in a decade. Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen also star.

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3 Days to Kill marks Costner's second spy movie of the year after Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

From Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures, The Lego Movie could earn north of $30 million in its third weekend (some put the number as high as $40 million). Earlier this week, the 3D animated film soared past the $200 million mark at the global box office.

A flurry of titles will debut at the specialty box office, including Hayao Miyazaki's acclaimed The Wind Rises. Disney opens the animated film in 21 theaters.