Friday, February 06, 2015

Box Office Preview: SpongeBob Ascending

The Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "American Sniper" (reviews) will most likely be knocked off of the top spot by cartoon superstar SpongeBob SquarePants and the entire gang from bikini bottom as they get "reel" on the big screen in a Sponge Out of Water (reviews). 

It's release delayed we will finally get a chance to see  Lana and Andy Wachowski's sci-fi thriller Jupiter Ascending (reviews). The plot is said to involve higher forms of life on other planets watching us. These beings have some human and animal DNA in them.

Mila Kunis plays a Russian immigrant and toilet cleaner who unknowingly carries "the same perfect genetic makeup as the Queen of the Universe and is therefore a threat to her otherwise immortal rule." A bounty hunter (Channing Tatum) is dispatched to kill her, but they fall in love.

In a time of enchantments when legends and magic collide, the sole remaining warrior of a mystical order (Oscar winner Jeff Bridges) travels to find the prophet/hero born with incredible powers, the last Seventh Son (Ben Barnes, reviews). Torn from his quiet life as a farmhand, the unlikely young hero embarks on a daring adventure with his battle-hardened mentor to vanquish a dark queen (Julianne Moore) and the army of supernatural assassins she has dispatched against their kingdom.

 Pamela McClintock of THR:

Sequel The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is expected to soak up plenty of business in its North America debut, as well as steal the top perch from Clint Eastwood's blockbuster American Sniper.

Box office pundits expect the $66 million film, based on the wildly popular Nickelodeon TV series, to open in the $35 million to $40 million range (there's some who believe it will do more), a tidy sum for Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies. The family title made a nice splash last weekend overseas, where it made $8 million from its first five territories.

Out of Water opens a decade after The Spongebob SquarePants Movie played in theaters, grossing north of $130 million globally. The first film was directed by Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the television show. This time, series writer and executive producer Paul Tibbitt directs, with regular cast members Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence and Mr. Lawrence reprising their roles. Antonio Banderas, who plays a villainous pirate, and Slash also star.

Sniper is expected to come in at No. 2 with $25 million for a domestic total north of $275 million by the end of Sunday. The Oscar-nominated film, starring Bradley Cooper, finished first for three consecutive weekends, breaking numerous records for partners Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow.

The stunning performance of Sniper is a needed boost for Warners and Village Roadshow as they prepare to open the long-delayed sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending, directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, and starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. The film is likely to open in the low $20 million range, if not $20 million, a disappointment considering it cost at least $150 million to make.

Jupiter Ascending, originally set to hit theaters in summer 2014, could make up ground overseas, where it likewise launches in numerous markets this weekend.

The biggest loser of the weekend looks to be Legendary Pictures' Seventh Son, a fantasy adventure starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore whose net budget was $95 million. Tracking suggests the 3D title will only debut in the $7 million to $10 million range domestically.

The good news for Legendary is that Seventh Son has already earned $82 million internationally, including $26 million in China, where Legendary East is releasing the movie and where the country's state-owned film company China Film Group made an eight-figure investment in the film.

Universal is distributing Seventh Son on behalf of Legendary, and has yet to open it in 15 foreign markets. In North America, it is tracking best among males but, in general, will have to compete with Jupiter Ascending for attention.

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