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Money Monster box office predictions

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Atsushi Nishijima

It’s beginning to look a lot like the 1990s as the weekend box office battle approaches, with Julia Roberts appearing in two films likely to chart within the top five.

As the widest new release of the week, the Roberts-starring thriller Money Monster debuted Thursday at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, kicking off what should be a successful run for Jodie Foster’s fourth feature directorial effort as it releases to 3,000 screens. Blumhouse is also set to release horror film The Darkness to 1,754 theaters, though neither film will gross enough to take the top spot from superhero holdover Captain America: Civil War, which will hold on to the box office throne for a second week in a row.

Here’s how the May 13-15 weekend box office showdown could play out:

1. Captain America: Civil War —$85 million

They soar, and then they fall; that’s often the trajectory of a comic book movie at the domestic box office, but even the mighty tumble of a caped hero is more than enough to reclaim the domestic box office throne for another week. With a lofty $179 million debut last weekend, the only way for Captain America: Civil War to go is down, however, and to the tune of 50-60 percent is how far it’ll slip over its second weekend.

Civil War is already a massive hit for Disney, having banked over $750 million worldwide to date, and its weekend follow-up should push it closer to crossing the $1 billion mark. Following in the footsteps of previous Marvel titles like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which respectively fell 59 percent and 56 percent during their sophomore frames, Civil War should end up in the $75-$85 million range come Sunday. It’ll probably settle somewhere on the upper side of estimates, given its A grade on CinemaScore and better-than-average critical reviews lending themselves to stronger word-of-mouth-based business.

2. The Jungle Book — $14 million

The Jungle Book held its own against Civil War‘s massive $179 million domestic opening, dipping only 44 percent to a fourth weekend haul of $24.5 million, all the more impressive considering new comic book adaptations typically drain far more from most of their holdover competitors. As the most prominent family-oriented film in still in release (Zootopia lost 410 theaters last week, while The Jungle Book added 103), the Jon Favreau-directed film will continue its gentle decline as the cross-demographic alternative to both the R-rated Money Monster and horror flick The Darkness, pulling in a number approaching the mid-to-high teens by the weekend’s conclusion.

3. Money Monster — $13 million

Though they ruled the box office throughout the 1990s through the early 2000s, George Clooney and Julia Roberts have seen their bankability with worldwide audiences slip slightly in recent years, but Sony’s robust marketing campaign (including a high profile Cannes debut Thursday) for their new film, Money Monster, has drummed up enough interest to warrant a likely No. 3 debut at the weekend box office from around 3,000 screens.

Adjusted for inflation, Foster’s directorial efforts have made between $50 million on the high end (Little Man Tate) and $1 million on the low end (The Beaver) over the years, but Money Monster is arguably the most commercially-friendly thing she’s helmed outside of a few TV episodes of Orange Is the New Black. Though estimates peg the $27 million film for a low-teens opening weekend (around $10 million), comparable adult-oriented pictures (Nightcrawler, The Big Short) have overcome modest debuts with strong legs and widespread appeal.

Money Monster is getting decent reviews, though it should rope in general audiences longing to see Clooney and Roberts in the type of good old fashioned throwback thriller we haven’t seen them do in a while.

4. Mother’s Day — $4.7 million

Though a less-than-average slide was expected as the titular holiday upon which it’s based took place last weekend, Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day exceeded estimates as it grossed $11.1 million across its second frame, actually besting its opening numbers by nearly $3 million as it added 106 theaters to its screen count. The romantic drama will, however, see a steep drop this weekend, landing somewhere in the $4-$5 million range, as Money Monster creeps in on its adult, female-skewing appeal.

5. The Darkness — $4.5 million

Horror fans have a few films to look forward to this summer; The Darkness doesn’t appear to be one of them. The Kevin Bacon-starring picture, about a boy who activates malevolent supernatural forces after bringing home a few mysterious stones he found in the desert, is being released by Blumhouse, the production company responsible for a wave of inexpensive horror titles that often go on to gross exponentially more than they cost to make.

As James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 looms with its June 10 release, genre enthusiasts are likely already looking ahead to better prospects on the horizon, as estimates have The Darkness on-track for a $4-5 million opening from 1,754 screens, which is enough to mark the film a financial success (its budget is a reported $5 million) heading into what will most likely be a large drop-off next week.

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