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Box office preview: LEGO Batman to blast through Matt Damon's Great Wall

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Twentieth Century Fox; Jasin Boland Bob Mahoney

After audiences flocked to see three new, high-profile releases last week, an additional trio of wide challengers are crowding theaters this Friday. Might Fifty Shades Darker take a box office lashing over its sophomore weekend? Will John Wick: Chapter 2 hold steady at No. 3? Can The LEGO Batman Movie charge through Matt Damon’s Great Wall?

Check out the Feb.17-20 four-day box office projections below.

1. The LEGO Batman Movie – $45 million 

Using The LEGO Movie as a barometer, things are looking good for Warner Bros. Animation’s third major big-screen outing. While not a direct sequel to the original (a box office juggernaut that grossed $257.8 million in North America), LEGO Batman tapped the same audience at the same time of year its forerunner did, and grossed $53 million last weekend. While Valentine’s Day undoubtedly helped the film’s mid-week numbers (it jumped from $2.7 million to over $5 million from Monday to Tuesday), the film doesn’t need a holiday tie-in to fuel its grosses in the long run, unlike Fifty Shades Darker. With broad cross-demographic appeal and a sturdy superhero franchise at its core, The LEGO Batman Movie should tumble a slight 10-30 percent over its ssecond-weekend outing.

2. Fifty Shades Darker – $20 million

While Fifty Shades of Grey notched one of history’s biggest second-weekend drops for a wide release in history, there’s a reasonable explanation: the film opened 24 hours before Valentine’s Day in 2015, meaning a surge in ticket sales to coincide with the romantic holiday. Fifty Shades Darker entered theaters across the same frame, though its initial three-day gross clocked in at roughly half of its predecessor’s. Still, the film could benefit from the four-day President’s Day weekend to balloon its total even further, as it remains the most prominent romance-themed picture on the market.

Look for Fifty Shades Darker to whip up between $17 million and $23 million over the four-day frame.

3. John Wick: Chapter 2 – $19 million 

John Wick: Chapter 2 more than doubled the $14.4 million opening gross posted by the first film in the John Wick series, which quickly became a modern cult classic upon its 2014 theatrical bow; its successor premiered to an astonishing $30.4 million, falling just short of becoming star Keanu Reeves’ biggest opener since The Day the Earth Stood Still opened with $30.5 million in 2008. Strong word-of-mouth (Chapter 2 currently has an A- grade on CinemaScore — a full letter higher than the first film) and borderline-rabid fan affinity for the brand should be enough to keep it from dipping more than 40 percent this weekend.

4. Fist Fight – $17.5 million 

Audiences are yearning for a good laugh, as a major mainstream comedy hasn’t opened wide since December’s Why Him? That changes with the release of New Line’s Charlie Day/Ice Cube laugher Fist Fight, which launches at approximately 3,200 sites on Friday (with Thursday previews).

The Warner Bros. family has found success in the genre in the recent past, including with 2016’s runaway hit Central Intelligence ($127.4 million domestically), How to Be Single ($112.3 million worldwide), and Vacation ($104.9 million worldwide). Though Fist Fight‘s talent roster isn’t as robust as those titles’, Charlie Day, Ice Cube, and Tracy Morgan seemingly make an ace comedic grouping in the film’s marketing materials. Expect Fist Fight to pull in around $16 million to $19 million over the holiday period.

5. The Great Wall – $17 million 

Controversy aside, there seems to be little reason for domestic audiences to book a trip back in time with Damon aboard Legendary and Universal Pictures’ The Great Wall, a historical monster movie set during the Song dynasty. While the film is directed by Zhang Yimou, one of the most well-respected Chinese filmmakers working today, most North American ticket-buyers have likely never heard of the filmmaker, and poor critical reception for his latest offering will do little to capture their interest. Foreign audiences, however, have eaten the film up, with a solid $224.5 million pouring in from international markets so far. Regardless of its domestic performance (likely in the $13 million-$18 million range), the film is already a global hit.

Outside the top five, Fox’s A Cure for Wellness looks to scare up a so-so $6 million-$8 million figure on a $40 million budget. The film hits 2,702 locations as Gore Verbinski’s first major theatrical feature since Disney’s The Lone Ranger bowed in 2013.

Judging by marketing materials, the film’s spooky tone recalls brooding thrillers from the late 1990s and early 2000s, like The Others, What Lies Beneath, and The Haunting, and could outperform initial industry projections as solid counter-programming to this week’s family-oriented (LEGO Batman), comedic (Fist Fight), and action-intensive (John Wick: Chapter 2) fare.

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