Two brand-new action comedies, The Heat and White House Down, will try to unseat Monsters University from the top spot at the box office this week, but that could be a formidable challenge. Though both summery films are on track for healthy debuts, Monsters has no new family competition, and it could take in another monstrous weekend sum.
Here’s how the box office might shake out:
1. Monsters University – $47 million
The well-reviewed Pixar film will likely top the box office for a second frame unless The Heat breaks out in a major way. Last year, Brave fell by 49 percent in its sophomore frame, but with better word-of-mouth, Monsters U may fall by a softer 42 percent to $47 million, which would give the comedy $172 million total.
2. The Heat – $44 million
In case you haven’t noticed, women have pretty much been running the box office lately. Last weekend, in fact, both World War Z and Monsters University played to more women than men. The Heat, which stars likable female leads Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, should also benefit. According to Fandango, the $43 million Fox comedy has been easily outpacing ticket sales for McCarthy’s breakout film Bridesmaids (also directed by Heat helmer Paul Feig), which opened with $26.2 million in 2011, as well as sales for Identity Thief, which opened with $35 million in January. McCarthy continues to prove irresistible for audiences, and the appeal of Bullock, who thrives most in comedic roles, can’t be denied either. Fox says it expects about $30 million this weekend, but I think The Heat may open with a tremendous $44 million over its first three days.
3. White House Down – $36 million
Channing Tatum had a banner year in 2012 with Magic Mike, The Vow, and 21 Jump Street all earning over $100 million. He may get yet another $100 million earner this year with the Roland Emmerich-directed feature White House Down, which also stars Jamie Foxx (who’s enjoying his own career surge thanks to Django Unchained). The $150 million film faces formidable competition from The Heat, World War Z, and Man of Steel — and it unfortunately arrives in theaters three months after the remarkably similar White House action drama Olympus Has Fallen became a $98.7 million hit. Marketing has been strong and seems tailor-made for summer popularity, but in a crowded marketplace, White House Down may have trouble breaking out. The film certainly won’t match Emmerich’s last epic release, 2012, which opened with $65.2 million, or his most iconic film, Independence Day, which began with $50.2 million. White House Down could earn about $36 million, but it will need great word-of-mouth to earn back its massive budget.
4. World War Z – $31 million
Strong weekday performances make it clear that audiences are enjoying the Brad Pitt zombie adventure, but it may not earn an exemplary hold due to the crowded marketplace. A 50 to 55 percent drop would give the ultra-expensive film a $31 million frame (you know the box office is cooking when the No. 4 movie is earning more than $30 million) and a $125 million 10-day total.
5. Man of Steel – $19 million
The film shouldn’t fall by 65 percent for a second weekend in a row, but it hasn’t demonstrated great staying power, either. Man of Steel may fall by 55 percent to about $19 million, giving it $246 million after three weekends.
Check back to EW all weekend to see how these films fare, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates.