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Box office preview: 'Toy Story' on tap to be biggest movie of the summer

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toy-story-3-gangImage Credit: Disney/PixarWhat can’t Pixar do? The Emeryville, Calif.-based movie studio that has transformed movie animation has done it again with Toy Story 3, the sequel that’s destined to be Pixar’s 11th straight hit. The movie, a reunion of the characters that began the now-legendary studio 15 years ago, may actually break some records and become the company’s highest-grossing movie ever. It would have to exceed Finding Nemo — which in summer 2003 earned $340 million — but with the higher ticket prices for the 3-D flick, that outcome is surely possible. The movie will open in 2,463 digital 3-D locations of its 4,028 overall locations and could bow to triple digits this weekend. It doesn’t have anything to compete with. Unfortunately for Warner Bros., the Josh Brolin-Megan Fox-starrer Jonah Hex is looking like a huge disappointment. It’s one of the few movies I’m told that has lost traction with audiences over the past few weeks. Read on for my predictions.

1. Toy Story 3: $100 million

No Pixar flick has opened to more than $70 million, the amount both Nemo and The Incredibles raked in their first weekend in theaters. So Disney, Pixar’s owner and distributor, is not going to assume Toy Story 3 will generate much more than $85 million, considering the 3-D upcharge that they’ll benefit from. I think, however, the interest in the film is high, and with generations of audiences loving Pixar films, Toy Story 3 definitely could be the movie to beat this summer in terms of overall gross. The only one that could stand in its way is Christopher Nolan’s Inception, though the film’s original plot and complex storyline may make it a more difficult sell.

2. The Karate Kid: $33 million

Did anyone really expect this Jaden Smith-Jackie Chan-starrer to gross $56 million last frame? Now that it’s done so and audiences love the movie, expect it to hold in well this weekend. It’s going to lose some of its heat from Toy Story, but I predict a 40 percent fall that’s likely to be its steepest drop-off for the majority of its run.

3. The A-Team: $13 million

Audiences liked this movie. I’m just not sure they are talking about it now that its opening has come and gone. I would guess the film drops off around 50 percent this weekend, a number that can’t be making the execs at Fox very happy right now.

4. Jonah Hex: $12 million

Not sure the disfigured gunslinger from DC Comics is going to play at all this weekend. If anyone’s showing up, it’s young males. The film works in theory as a counter-programming option to the family fare of Toy Story 3. But there seems to be little heat on the PG-13 rated flick. Sorry Warner Bros.: Between this and Splice, June had not been a good month at the box office.

5. Shrek Forever After: $8 million

Say goodnight Shrek. Your reign has officially ended. After four weekends and $215 million, your time in the spotlight is finished. Unfortunately, what that means is the fourth installment of the massive franchise is going to be its lowest grosser of them all. I just don’t see it eking out even the $267 million that Shrek made back in 2001 before inflated 3-D ticket prices were around.

In limited release there are some interesting options around, including the Jonah Hill-John C. Reilly-starrer Cyrus, which Fox Searchlight will open in four theaters. Also bowing is the Casey Affleck-starrer The Killer Inside Me and Tilda Swinton’s I Am Love.