Box Office Report: Brett Ratner's 'Tower Heist' Steals No. 1 Spot on Friday

Tower Heist

Studio: Universal
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick
Release Date: Nov. 4, 2011
Budget: $75 million
Worldwide Gross: $126.3 million

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The action comedy starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick will gross $8 million to $11 million Friday for a weekend opening of $25 million to $32 million; "Puss in Boots" purring loudly in its second frame.

Brett Ratner's PG-13 action-comedy Tower Heist is easily winning the Friday box office race with a gross in the $8 million to $11 million range. With nighttime numbers only beginning to come in, early projections show the movie grossing anywhere from $25 million to $32 million for the weekend.

The $85 million Universal film has plenty of star power in a cast led by Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick. Murphy, whose live-action career has suffered in recent years, should see better numbers than usual. Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, Michael Pena and Gabourey Sidibe also star in the film, about a group of non-crooks who set out to rob the man who swindled them out of their pensions.

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DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Puss in Boots is enjoying a strong hold in its second Friday, and is looking at a second-place finish for the weekend, ahead of the frame's other new wide player, stoner comedy A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.

Very early returns suggest Puss in Boots will gross in the $22 million to $24 million range in its second outing after opening to a subdued $34.1 million last weekend, when a surprise nor'easter on the East Coast took a bite out of the box office.

From Warner Bros. and New Line, the modestly budgeted Harold & Kumar should open between $15 million and $18 million. The R-rated pic cost $20 million to produce.

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Earlier on Friday, Universal wasn't sure Tower Heist -- produced by Imagine Entertianment's Brian Grazer and Kim Roth -- would get beyond $26 million or $27 million, but then numbers improved notably as early evening shows got underway on the East Coast.

A year ago on the same weekend, Warner Bros.' comedy Due Date opened to $32.7 million at the domestic box office, and while Universal is using that film as a comp, the studio had lowered its projection to between $25 million and $30 million because of the soft marketplace.

Wherever Tower Heist comes in, overall domestic box office revenues will be well short of the same weekend last year, when DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Megamind debuted to $46 million, followed by Due Date at $32.7 million. The dip is a continued reminder of the general box office downturn -- in part due to the flight of young poeple from the multiplex -- and comes just as Hollywood prepares for the busy year-end holiday season.