Box Office Report: Early Friday Returns Show 'Croods' Opening to Solid $40 Million-Plus

The Croods Still - H 2013

The Croods Still - H 2013

Among other new offerings, Gerard Butler's White House action pic "Olympus Has Fallen" also off to pleasing start; "Spring Breakers" scores as it expands nationwide.

Animated tentpole The Croods is off to a solid start at the domestic box office, where it's expected to gross $11 million to $12 million on Friday for a projected weekend opening in the $40 million to $42 million range.

That's welcome news for Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation, whose previous film Rise of the Guardians was a box-office dud. Wall Street is paying close attention to Croods, with most analysts agreeing that a North American opening of $40 million or more would suffice in combination with a strong international run.

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Croods, costing at least $135 million to produce, opens around the world this weekend. Insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter that the 3D family film is doing well offshore, though no numbers are yet available.

Following the travails of a prehistoric family, Croods is the first DWA title to be distributed by 20th Century Fox via their new distribution and marketing deal. The voice cast is led by Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone and Nicolas Cage.

Croods hopes to benefit from a dearth of family product in the marketplace. It is also aiming to do brisk weekday business because of spring break.

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, Antoine Fuqua's White House action pic Olympus Has Fallen is likewise off to a solid start. The pic, marking something of a comeback for Gerard Butler, is expected to gross north of $9 million on Friday for a weekend debut in the $25 million range, if not more.

FilmDistrict is distributing the Millennium Films title, which cost at least $70 million to produce.

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In the film, Butler plays a disgraced presidential guard who is called back into action when North Korean terrorists take over the White House. Roland Emmerich's White House Down, opening in June, is similarly themed. Olympus Has Fallen also stars Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Melissa Leo and Ashley Judd.

The new Paul Weitz comedy Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, is expected to earn roughly $2.5 million on Friday for a softish opening in the $6 million to $7.5 million range. Focus Features had hoped for slightly more but believes that the film will benefit from good word of mouth and have solid legs.

Focus' financial exposure is limited considering Admission, playing in more than 2,000 theaters, cost a modest $13 million to produce. The comedy tells the story of a straitlaced Princeton University admissions officer (Fey) whose life takes an unexpected turn when she makes a recruiting trip to an alternative high school run by a former classmate (Rudd).

Harmony Korine's outrageous indie comedy Spring Breakers, which expanded nationwide Friday, isn't that far behind Admission despite only playing in only about 1,100 theaters. The R-rated pic could gross north of $2.1 million on Friday for a weekend gross of $6 million, a  victory for upstart distributor A24 Films.

Spring Breakers, starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson, scored the best limited release of the year last weekend when opening in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles.