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Box office predictions: Angry Birds comes for Captain America

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Marvel; Rovio Animation; Daniel McFadden

Vying for its third weekend atop the domestic box office, Captain America: Civil War faces heavy competition from the R-rated comedy Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and the family animated feature The Angry Birds Movie, making the May 20-22 weekend showdown one of the most competitive box office races of the year so far. 

With three high-profile releases entering theaters this weekend, audiences have a wide variety of films to choose from. Warner Bros.’ The Nice Guys and Universal’s Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising are gunning for adult dollars, while The Angry Birds Movie gives audiences their first new taste of major family-oriented cinema since The Jungle Book debuted on April 15.

Here’s a glimpse at how this weekend’s battle for the box office crown could unfold: 

1. The Angry Birds Movie —$45 million

The Angry Birds Movie is looking at a healthy month-long run at the box office, as it’s the only animated feature entering wide release between now and June 17, when Disney’s Finding Dory hits theaters. With little else to choose from (The Jungle Book is quietly receding down the top 10), families will likely flock to Sony’s video game adaptation, which opens on more than 3,900 screens this weekend.

Though grosses for family-oriented animated films are often difficult to gauge, and estimates peg the film for around $38 million across its first weekend, the film’s heavy marketing campaign that has dramatically raised the project’s visibility. The film features an all-star cast: Jason Sudeikis, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and Josh Gad each voice characters, and the accompanying soundtrack includes songs by Blake Shelton, Demi Lovato, and Charli XCX. The game upon which the film is based is also wildly popular (even spawning a themed land at the U.K.’s Thorpe Park) further speaking to the brand’s worldwide appeal.

Still, video game adaptations rarely perform well with critics, though The Angry Birds Movie can be considered a success when compared to reviews for its genre brethren. It currently stands at 51 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and while that might be considered average for any other release, it’s on the high end for films based on video games.

2. Captain America: Civil War — $40 million

After reigning for two weeks in a row, Captain America: Civil War‘s time at the top might be up, but just barely. The film will likely follow in the footsteps of its genre counterparts, dipping far less than it did over its first to second week frame, landing in the $40 million range after falling an estimated 45 percent from its $72.6 haul last weekend. Heading into its third full week of release, Civil War has grossed $978 million worldwide to date, and will certainly cross the $1 billion mark by Sunday.

3. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising — $35 million

Comedy sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising has big shoes to fill. Its predecessor grossed $270.6 million worldwide on a (tiny, in comparison) $18 million budget on top of solid reviews from critics. The second entry in the Seth Rogen/Zac Efron-comedy saga enters 3,384 theaters this weekend with decent reviews (albeit worse than the original’s), offering an R-rated alternative for the college-aged, young adult crowd.

Joining returning stars Rogen, Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, and Lisa Kudrow, the sequel gets a boost of star power from new cast additions like Chloe Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez. Though the former has yet to prove herself as a legitimate box office draw, her presence (and prominent featuring on the film’s poster and promotional materials) will help bring younger women to the theater.

Comedy sequels are often hit or miss with audiences; Horrible Bosses 2 ($54.5 million) and Zoolander 2 ($28.8 million) underperformed in the shadow of their predecessors, though Neighbors 2 is landing during the summer, when even critically-panned comedies (Vacation, Tammy) can run through the season atop strong legs. Other sequels, like The Hangover Part II, can escape the dreaded sophomore slump altogether.

4. The Nice Guys — $18.5 million

Opening at around 2,900 locations, The Nice Guys pairs Ryan Gosling with Russell Crowe for an action/comedy that critics are lauding, primarily for the inherent appeal of (and chemistry between) its two leads. Fresh from its Cannes Film Festival screening, The Nice Guys has thus far received glowing reactions, with 91 percent of critics giving the film a positive review. Warner Bros. similarly opened their eventual Oscar juggernaut Mad Max: Fury Road at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, shortly before its theatrical release. 

Heading into Thursday night previews, which begin at 7 p.m., estimates peg the R-rated buddy comedy (counter programming to Civil War and The Angry Birds Movie) for a modest $10 million opening, though Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, which was estimated to gross the same last weekend, exceeded those expectations by nearly $5 million thanks to its Cannes publicity bump. The Nice Guys is riding high on Gosling’s appeal in the first place, and could approach $20 million when the dust of a competitive weekend box office battle settles.

5. The Jungle Book — $9 million

Disney’s The Jungle Book has held either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot at the box office across each of its five weekends in release, though the time has come for the adventure film to begin its descent into the lower regions of the top 10. If holdovers targeted at adults (Money Monster, in particular) hold on stronger than expected, The Jungle Book could even, by Sunday, slip out of the top five entirely, though a gentle dip from its previous weekend haul of $17.1 million is expected.

R-rated newcomers Neighbors 2 and The Nice Guys pose very little threat to The Jungle Book‘s gross, which currently stands at more than $800 million worldwide, though The Angry Birds Movie could steal a larger-than-average portion of its family audience as it heads to 3,900 screens.

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