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Box Office: Magnificent Seven will ride to No. 1

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Scott Garfield; Warner Bros.

Two new wide releases are poised to light the fall movie season ablaze with big box office debuts this weekend.

Following a high-profile premiere as the opening night film at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, Antoine Fuqua’s western remake The Magnificent Seven joins Warner Bros.’ family-oriented animated comedy Storks in the race for this week’s box office crown. Both films are tracking well above initial projections, though the upcoming weekend’s totals will likely fall behind the same weekend in 2015, when Hotel Transylvania 2 broke its forerunner’s September opening record with $48.5 million.

Will The Magnificent Seven claim the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office and break the record for the highest September debut in history? Here’s how the Sept. 23-25 weekend box office totals might stack up:

1. The Magnificent Seven – $48 million

According to Fandango’s Fanticipation meter, the contemporary remake of the classic Western The Magnificent Seven is currently tracking ahead of all theatrical releases from director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington. Fuqua’s highest bow to date, unadjusted for inflation, remains The Equalizer, which made $34.1 million back in 2014. Washington’s best performance at the weekend box office occurred in 2007, when American Gangster premiered to $43.6 million.

While tracking is strong for The Magnificent Seven, Westerns typically don’t speak to a wide audience at the domestic box office. 2015’s The Revenant was the first in the genre to make more than $100 million since Quentin Tarantino’s Western-inspired picture, Django Unchained, did so back in 2012. In the interim, there have been far more flops than hits. Disney’s The Lone Ranger grossed $89 million on a $250 million budget in 2013, while Weinstein Co.’s Jane Got a Gun made just $1.5 million earlier this year.

Still, with an ensemble cast (Chris Pratt, Matt Bomer, Ethan Hawke) and reviews that aren’t bad enough to derail it, The Magnificent Seven could wind up with nearly $50 million by Sunday. The $90 million MGM/Columbia production opens Friday in in 3,665 theaters across North America, with Thursday previews beginning at 7 p.m. at 2,800 locations.

2. Storks – $33 million

Opening at approximately 3,900 locations this weekend is Warner Bros.’ 3D animated family feature, Storks. The second release under the Warner Bros. Animation umbrella, Storks has big shoes to fill; the studio’s LEGO Movie earned over $257 million domestically in 2014, making it the fifth highest-grossing film that year.

Though reviews indicate the film isn’t exactly playing on the same level as other 2016 animated flicks like Finding Dory or The Secret Life of Pets, on a relatively modest budget (for an animated title) of $70 million, Storks has plenty of room to grow, regardless of how it opens with audiences or critics.

Globally, Warner Bros. plans to debut Storks in 33 markets by the end of the week, including Australia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, and China. Though it’s pacing for an opening below LEGO‘s $69 million debut, Storks should pull in a decent number between $30 and $40 million this weekend.

3. Sully – $12 million

Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, Sully, heads into its third week as the reigning box office champion. It led for two weeks in a row after debuting to a stellar $35 million in early September, dipping a mere 38 percent from week one to week two. Though it’ll tumble a little harder over its third frame, it should land somewhere in the $10-$14 million range, which is good enough to secure a spot in the top 3 for another consecutive week.

4. Bridget Jones’s Baby – $5.5 million

Bridget Jones is still going strong, three films into the series; while the franchise’s latest installment might not be breaking any box office records in the U.S., it debuted at No. 1 on U.K. screens with a per-theater average of $16,538. After grossing $8.6 million over its first weekend on domestic screens, however, it’s clear the same audience who carried the first flick to over $70 million in North America is no longer as invested in the franchise. That doesn’t mean the older moviegoing crowd who turned out for the film’s opening weekend (72 percent of Baby‘s audience was over the age of 35) will abandon the flick altogether; traditionally, Bridget Jones movies hold on strong from week to week, and movie No. 3 will be no different.

5. Snowden – $4 million

With an A grade on CinemaScore, Oliver Stone’s Snowden heads into its second week in wide release with one of the highest audience scores of any film currently in theaters. Critics didn’t exactly hate the movie, either, so all signs point to a relatively normal decline in the 40-50 percent range for the biopic, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular whistleblower who leaked classified NSA documents to the public.

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