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Box office preview: 'Hop' to leap over the competition

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HOP Drums
Rhythm and Hues

Moviegoers, brace yourself for The Insidious Hop Code, this weekend’s triple threat consisting of the possessed-child horror film Insidious, the Easter Bunny comedy Hop, and the multiverse thriller Source Code. One of these movies (Source Code) is receiving much better reviews than the others. But the charms of an anthropomorphic CG rabbit that sounds like Russell Brand and poops jelly beans will be too hard to resist, so expect Hop to collect the biggest box-office egg this weekend. The overall box office, however, should once again trail last year’s tally, when Clash of the Titans debuted to a staggering $61.2 million. Here are my predictions for the top five:

1. Hop: $28 million

Universal’s PG comedy, about the Easter Bunny’s rebellious teenage son (voiced by Brand), should benefit from the fact that spring break starts this weekend for a significant amount of kids. Furthermore, as far as holiday films go, Easter has been underrepresented, so a picture about the tribulations of the future Easter Bunny should seem original enough to appeal to many moviegoers. Hop is the second film produced by Illumination Entertainment, whose first film, Despicable Me, opened to $56.4 million last summer. Hop should bounce away with about half that amount — a solid start for the modestly budgeted ($63 million) half-animated/half-live-action flick.

2. Source Code: $15 million

This PG-13 thriller, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who, a la Groundhog Day, is repeatedly given the same eight minutes to uncover the terrorist responsible for a Chicago train bombing, has garnered mostly positive reviews from critics. That should go a long way in generating interest amount adult moviegoers, as should what will likely be strong word-of-mouth. Grown-up thrillers, such as Limitless, The Adjustment Bureau, and Unknown, have performed surprisingly well as of late, and while Gyllenhaal is by no means an assured box-office draw, Source Code should continue the trend. The $32 million film is directed by Duncan Jones (Moon), who is likely tired of hearing that he’s also the son of David Bowie.

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules: $12 million

Wimpy Kid schooled Sucker Punch last weekend by leading the frame with $23.8 million. But now the PG comedy will probably lose much of its family audience to the leporid Hop. A drop of 50 percent should be expected.

4. Limitless: $10.5 million

The Bradley Cooper thriller slipped only 20 percent last weekend, and it even wound up topping the charts this week on both Tuesday and Wednesday. However, Source Code will be going after the same adult crowd. Thus, a slightly higher decline of around 30 percent seems reasonable for Limitless‘ third weekend.

5. Insidious: $9.5 million

This PG-13 horror film, about a young boy whose comatose body becomes possessed by evil spirits, is the weekend’s wild card. There hasn’t been a wide-release supernatural horror movie since January’s The Rite, so the genre’s biggest fanbase (read: teenage girls) may jump at the opportunity to check out Insidious. Plus, the $1.5 million movie has some notable horror pedigree: It’s directed by Saw‘s James Wan and produced by Paranormal Activity‘s Oren Peli. If Insidious breaks out, we could be looking at a gross in the mid-teens. But I think the film will hover around $10 million, which will nonetheless be a commendable debut for such an inexpensive project.

Also opening in about 1,000 theaters this weekend is the Weinstein Company’s PG-13 cut of The King’s Speech. And this year’s Oscar winner for best foreign-language film, Susanne Bier’s In a Better World, debuts at four theaters in Los Angeles and New York.

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