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Box office preview: In the Heart of the Sea faces rough waters

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Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Call it the calm before the storm: Only one major new release is slated to debut this weekend, one week before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters. And it won’t exactly be smooth sailing for Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, which is on track for a debut in the low teens.

If predictions hold true, that’ll be one of the lower debuts on Howard’s resume, and with a budget just under $100 million, it’s a gloomy conclusion to what has been a dismal year for Warner Bros. The studio has seen a number of high-profile flops, including Pan and Jupiter Ascending, and San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road are the only two Warner Bros. pictures to cross $100 million this year. WB has one more release scheduled for 2015: Point Break, which will hit theaters on Christmas Day.

Here’s how this weekend’s box office might shape up:

1. In The Heart Of The Sea — $13 million

Adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick’s 2000 book, In the Heart of the Sea stars Chris Hemsworth as real-life sailor Owen Chase, who served as first mate on a 19th-century whaling ship called the Essex. After a whale destroyed their ship, Chase and his men were left stranded at sea, and the story is believed to have inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Reviews have been mixed, and In the Heart of the Sea currently holds a 51 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Debuting in more than 3,000 theaters, it’s expected to open between $12 and $15 million, and while that isn’t the greatest forecast for the pricey drama, it should be enough to secure first place. 

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 — $11.3 million

After holding steady in first place, Mockingjay is expected to finally relinquish its crown in its fourth weekend. The final chapter in the story of Katniss Everdeen has grossed more than $230.5 million domestically, and its worldwide total recently crossed $525 million. The first Mockingjay, which opened on the same weekend last year, fell about 40 percent in its fourth weekend. If Part 2 continues to perform similarly, it’s looking at a weekend just north of $11 million.

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3. The Good Dinosaur — $9.2 million

Since its Thanksgiving debut, The Good Dinosaur has racked up $77.6 million domestically, and while that is by no means a bad run, it’s a bit disappointing for Pixar, a studio that has consistently been box office gold. As a result, The Good Dinosaur looks to be the first-ever Pixar film not to hit No. 1. It saw a steeper-than-expected drop of more than 60 percent last weekend, and although early estimates had Creed pulling ahead, The Good Dinosaur did mange to secure third place with $15.3 million. It’s expected to fall about 40 percent for a third weekend of about $9.2 million.

4. Creed —$9 million

In the Heart of the Sea aside, there have been some bright spots this year for Warner Bros. Creed has been one of the fall movie season’s breakout hits, besting expectations and grossing more than $67 million domestically. Like The Good Dinosaur, it’s expected to drop about 40 percent in its third weekend. 

5. Krampus — $8.1 million

The Christmas-themed horror comedy debuted well above expectations last weekend, bringing in $16.3 million. While most horror movies see a very steep drop in their second weekends, positive word-of-mouth could help hold it to a drop of about 50 percent.

Outside of the top five, Adam McKay’s The Big Short — which picked up four Golden Globe nominations on Thursday — is launching in a handful of theaters before going wide on Dec. 23.