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Box office preview: Is 'G.I. Joe' Hasbro's next blockbuster?

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Considering all the negative press G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has received over the past few months, one would think the movie’s going to disappoint at the box office. And one would be wrong. Sure, it’s one of the first blockbusters this summer to completely ignore critics, not giving them any early access to the film. It’s been dogged throughout its production with various rumors, from Sienna Miller’s prosthetic breasts to replacement of director Stephen Sommers in the edit bay. (Paramount has denied both.) And no, it doesn’t help that Miller went out and said, “It’s not going to be the best acting we’ve ever done.” When it comes down to it, people love action heroes and they love seeing things blown up and G.I. Joe has a lot of both. It’s also got good timing. With the last action spectacle, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, opening back at the end of June — G.I. Joe will actually be filling a need as the last blockbuster of the summer. The only caveat is pesky word-of-mouth. If the film really doesn’t deliver we’re likely to see a big Friday to Saturday drop, but at this moment in time, things are looking good for Miller and the rest of her cohorts.

1. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: $50 million

Hasbro could be called the big winner this summer as two of its toy franchises: Transformers and G.I. Joe turn into big hits for Paramount. I don’t think anyone is expecting G.I. Joe to reap anywhere close to the $389 million earned by Transformers. (Half that would probably make the execs happy.) But a strong opening will be a big improvement on the overall box office, which has been down the last four weekends. Let’s go Joe!

2. Julie & Julia: $20 million

I doubt writer/director Nora Ephron could have worked harder publicizing this Meryl Streep/Amy Adams two-hander. The woman may have cooked with every journalist in the country to promote Julie & Julia, her PG-13 rated romance with food. With women lining up already for the well-reviewed flick, Sony could have a real break-out hit on their hands. I wouldn’t be surprised if this does Devil Wears Prada numbers. This is sure to be an interesting one to watch.

3. Funny People: $11 million

Funny People is freaking industry people out. The movie was tracking to bring in $35 million last weekend, but did only $22 million and its mid-week numbers haven’t helped much. While the strategy of selling the comedy all-stars of the cast didn’t work, what it did re-affirm is actors don’t really matter nearly as much as the concept they’re selling. Adam Sandler has never done well at the box office when he’s not doing his usual schtick so none of us should really be surprised by this. Look for at least a 50% drop this weekend. Kids aren’t seeing the R-rated movie about a cranky comedian with a fatal disease, and most likely adults will turn to Julie & Julia for their movie-going entertainment.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: $10 million

166 IMAX theaters did a wonder for Harry Potter’s third weekend in theaters. Dropping only 40% in theaters, the sixth Harry has now grossed $260 million and should get close to the $300 million mark. It’s predecessor, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grossed $292 million back in 2007.

5. A Perfect Getaway: $9 million

Despite quite a hefty marketing budget, it doesn’t look like the Steve Zahn, Milla Jovavich R-rated thriller is going to have a nice time at the box office. It will be lucky at this point to nab a spot in the top 5.

Other limited releases this frame: Paul Giamatti’s indie comedy Cold Souls and the Michael Cera/Charlyne Yi riff on love, Paper Heart.

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