'Ugly,' 'Orphan' new in theaters but 'Prince' will reign

It will be girls’ night out at the weekend box office as Sony’s romantic comedy “The Ugly Truth” and Warner Bros. horror pic “The Orphan” compete for femme eyeballs, while Disney goes after tots with 3-D toon “G-Force.”

Ultimately, it’s a race for No. 2, since holdover “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is a shoo-in for the top spot at the domestic B.O.

“Half-Blood Prince” is fast closing in on the $200 million mark. Domestic cume through Wednesday was $185 million.

Overseas, the sixth installment in the Warners franchise was expected to jump the $300 million mark by Thursday.

“Half-Blood Prince” is expected to dominate internationally over the weekend, although it will have to compete in Japan with new entry “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” Fox held off opening “Ice Age 3″ in Japan, a lucrative market for the animated franchise, until now.

Among the new offerings at the domestic B.O., “G-Force” and “Ugly Truth” are showing the most strength and could find themselves in a close contest.

“G-Force” opens in 3,697 runs, of which 1,603 are 3-D locations. Pic, about a pack of guinea pigs who become government operatives, is the first 3-D title produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Voice cast includes Sam Rockwell, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz and Tracy Morgan.

Box office observers say “G-Force” will likely debut in the $20 million-$30 million range.

According to tracking, “Ugly Truth” has plenty of sex appeal to women. Romantic comedy, opening in 2,882 runs, stars Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler as a TV producer and carefree playboy who are forced to work together. Summer has turned into fertile ground for femme-driven comedies, including this year’s hit “The Proposal.”

From Disney, “The Proposal” has cumed $132.2 million domestically since its release on June 19, one of the best showings ever for a summer romantic comedy. It’s remained on the top 10 chart, although it could take a substantial hit with “Ugly Truth” unspooling.

“Orphan,” produced by Joel Silver, is trailing “The Ugly Truth” substantially in tracking, with young women saying they plan on seeing “Ugly Truth” first. Both are rated R.

But if word of mouth is strong, “Orphan” could pick up. Bad-seed storyline revolves around an unwitting couple who adopt a spooky Russian girl. Cast includes Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and Isabella Fuhrman. Warners and Silver have waged an aggressive marketing campaign for the film.

“Orphan” and “Ugly Truth” were drawing ho-hum reviews, but both could provide palatable date-night fare for the weekend.

On the specialty side, the weekend will see several critical moves.

Summit Entertainment’s “The Hurt Locker,” about a bomb squad in Baghdad, expands from 94 to 238 location in its fifth sesh. Kathryn Bigelow-directed pic’s cume through Wednesday was $2.5 million.

Fox Searchlight’s offbeat comedy “500 Day of Summer” expands from 27 to 85 locations in its soph weekend. The well-reviewed film enjoyed one of the best debuts of the year for an indie pic, grossing $834,50 for a per-theater average of $30,907.

Indie openers include “In the Loop,” a political satire that IFC opens in eight theaters. Pic, which played at Sundance in January, toplines James Gandolfini.

Roadside Attractions unspools Kevin Spacey drama “Shrink” in two theaters in New York and L.A. Spacey stars as a celebrity shrink whose life takes a downward spiral.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more