By Grady Smith
May 09, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
Warner Bros.

Almost a full year after the first trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D adaptation of The Great Gatsby debuted, the much-buzzed-about (and long-delayed) F. Scott Fitzgerald tale is finally coming to the big screen. Gatsby will Charleston its way into theaters on Friday alongside Tyler Perry’s latest comedy, Peeples. Neither of the newcomers has a legitimate shot at taking out Iron Man 3, which will soar in its second weekend, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make an impact at the box office. To the contrary, Gatsby‘s prospects look surprisingly strong.

Here’s how the box office may look this weekend:

1. Iron Man 3 – $79 million

The Marvel blockbuster, which has already earned over $204.8 million domestically, could fall by 70 percent in its sophomore frame and still win the weekend — and there’s no reason to think its second weekend decline should be so steep, though you’re destined for a substantial drop when you open to $174.1 million. Last year, The Avengers only fell 50 percent after its record-setting opening, and although Iron Man 3 scored an “A” CinemaScore, its second-weekend drop may be a touch steeper, if only because it’s not quite the event that The Avengers was at the domestic box office. Still a 55-percent dip would bring Iron Man 3 to a truly mammoth $79 million — and about $290 million after just ten days.

2. The Great Gatsby – $43 million

The Baz Luhrmann visual extravaganza doesn’t quite fit into a tentpole-stuffed May that includes Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, and The Hangover Part III, and that will be its biggest asset at the box office. Prospects looked worrisome for this Warner Bros. release, which cost about $100 million to produce, after the film was moved out of Oscar season last year and shifted to May. But in the weeks leading up to Gatsby‘s release, social media activity has been encouragingly strong, and it will benefit from being the only glossy, star-studded Hollywood drama in the marketplace. Fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved novel and older moviegoers will turn out because of the subject matter, and some young people should buy tickets after being enticed by the well-marketed Jay-Z-produced soundtrack. Fandango reports that an impressive 65 percent of today’s ticket sales are for Gatsby.

Leonardo DiCaprio, following up his well-received turn in Django Unchained, is a true movie star, and though he’s flanked by Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, and Joel Edgerton in Gatsby, it’s his presence that will pull in both male and female fans in large numbers. The Mother’s Day holiday may also drive viewership with women on Sunday. Reviews haven’t been especially kind to the adaptation, but they haven’t trashed Luhrmann’s visual aesthetic either. The film looks expensive (it was) and, most of all, ambitious — a word that couldn’t be used to describe spring offerings like Identity Thief or Beautiful Creatures. Curious moviegoers and movie buffs could drive The Great Gatsby to an opening in line with DiCaprio’s Shutter Island, which debuted to $41.5 million. Out in 3,535 theaters, Gatsby could make its way to a $43 million opening.

3. Peeples – $15 million

Technically, the title of this comedy, which stars Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier, and Kerry Washington, is Tyler Perry Presents Peeples because prolific mogul Perry only produced the film — rather than writing/directing/starring in it. Thus, it’s not likely to play as well as one of his directorial efforts like Temptation, which opened to $21.6 million, or his popular Madea vehicles. That’s not to say Peeples is in bad shape. The Lionsgate film has a slim $15 million budget, and it should earn most of that back this weekend. The studio has targeted Perry’s core demographic of African-American women, and, as with Gatsby, Peeples should benefit from Mother’s Day business. It may earn about $15 million from 2,041 theaters.

4. Pain & Gain – $3.8 million

The Michael Bay film took a huge hit last weekend in the face of Iron Man 3, but it should level off this time around. A 50-percent drop would give the body-building action film a $3.8 million gross, enough to push its total past the $40 million mark.

5. 42 – $3.5 million

The baseball drama should enjoy one final weekend in the Top 5 and finish the frame with about $84 million total.

Check back all weekend to see how The Great Gatsby and Iron Man 3 fare, and sound off with your predictions in the comments below!

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Read more:

‘The Great Gatsby: EW Review

‘Great Gatsby’ photo album

‘Peeples’: EW Review

‘Peeples’ stars take the EW Pop Culture Personality Test