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Box office preview: Blade Runner 2049 to slice competition with hefty debut

‘The Mountain Between Us’ and ‘My Little Pony’ counter-program the sci-fi sequel

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Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros; Lionsgate/Hasbro; Kimberley French/Fox

Thirty-five years after Ridley Scott launched Blade Runner into pop cultural orbit, Denis Villeneuve is putting a contemporary spin on the sci-fi classic with his blockbuster sequel Blade Runner 2049, with Ryan Gosling manning his first major Hollywood tentpole alongside original star Harrison Ford in the passenger seat. With so much riding on the shoulders of this dynamic duo, can they do Scott’s masterpiece justice at the domestic box office? Read on for EW’s Oct. 6-8 box office predictions.

1 – Blade Runner 2049 – $55 million

Blade Runner 2049 is the hottest new release on the block, but it doesn’t have big shoes to fill — at least when it comes to box office. The first Blade Runner film grossed a mere $27.6 million in 1982, becoming a cult favorite in subsequent years. That passion has positioned Villeneuve’s film for greatness, but also set the bar extremely high for the 2017 revival. Still, Villeneuve’s new offering has been touted by critics as one of the year’s best films, offering a refreshing, accessible point of entry for both existing fans and newcomers alike.

Movietickets.com indicates presales are pacing six times ahead of Villeneuve’s last theatrical outing, the Oscar-nominated drama Arrival, which opened to $24 million last November ahead of bagging eight nominations from the Academy, three times ahead of 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($72.6 million opening), and two times ahead of Scott’s Matt Damon space drama The Martian ($54.3 million opening).

While rabid fans of the 1982 film are likely gobbling up advance tickets faster than typical audiences would for a non-franchise release, Warner Bros. has proven its ability to stick landings for resurgent series, similarly shepherding 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road — another current reboot of an aging property — to monetary (and critical) success.

Expect Blade Runner 2049 to post around $50-60 million through Sunday, but don’t be surprised if it pushes even higher.

2 – My Little Pony – $12 million

Effective counter-programming to the brooding genre pieces currently dominating the domestic chart, the family animated feature My Little Pony — based on the popular line of toys — hits theaters with an attractive voice cast (Emily Blunt, Uzo Aduba, Liev Schreiber) in tow. Little ones care less about star wattage, however, and My Little Pony‘s marketing materials promise a vibrant experience that’s attractive enough to fill a decent amount of seats on opening weekend. Don’t anticipate a Pixar-sized launch, though My Little Pony should gallop along on strong hooves in the weeks ahead.

3 – The Mountain Between Us – $9 million

Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are widely respected as some of the finest actors working today, though neither is a bankable box office draw on his or her own. Together, they aim to make magic in the disaster-themed romance The Mountain Between Us, a prestige love story set against the backdrop of rural, snow-capped peaks (and tied together with a mid-range $35 million budget). Fox is pushing the film to approximately 3,000 theaters this Friday, where a so-so start in the $8-9 million range is expected, as a film like this — especially in wide release — needs strong word of mouth and critical support to catch on, neither of which seems likely as critical reviews head south.

4 – It – $8.4 million

The season is right for audiences in the hunt for a good scare, and It continues to outperform expectations heading into its fifth weekend in wide release. Closing in on an astounding $300 million in North American alone as Halloween approaches, the film’s spooky premise and ability to play across demographics (you don’t get to that number appealing simply to the traditionally young, traditionally female horror base) should keep it standing on sturdier legs than other recent openers (Kingsman, Tom Cruise’s American Made) in the weeks ahead.

5 – Kingsman: The Golden Circle – $8.2 million

A two-time champion of the weekly chart, Kingsman: The Golden Circle will finally tumble from the top spot this weekend, as Blade Runner 2049 guns for a similar audience. The film has plenty to celebrate, however: after 13 days in release, it trails its predecessor’s totals over the same period by less than $2 million, and that film went on to gross $128 million back in 2015. Golden Circle‘s total won’t balloon that high, but it should be able to scrape by with more than $90 million by the end of its run.

Outside the top five, Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Abdul expands to approximately 750 locations nationwide, where, over time, it should play effectively to the same older audience base that lifted the director’s past projects (Florence Foster Jenkins, Philomena) to comfortable totals in the $20-40 million range.

Two major titles are also set to hit the specialty sector this weekend, as Sean Baker’s Cannes favorite The Florida Project — about a destitute mother raising an unruly child in a hotel run by Willem Dafoe — seeks to translate its powerful positive momentum from the festival circuit into a healthy per-screen average in limited release, while Benedict Andrews’ Rooney Mara-starring adaptation of David Harrower’s stage play, Una, also targets the high brow crowd over a year after its Telluride premiere.