‘Unstoppable’ rolls into box office

Holdover 'Megamind' could derail Washington starrer

Twentieth Century Fox is at the head of the box office train for this weekend’s domestic box office, with Denzel Washington starrer “Unstoppable” launching today at 3,207 locations, though according to some B.O. pundits, Paramount/DreamWorks Animations’ 3D toon holdover “Megamind” could derail the Fox money train depending on its soph sesh hold.

Rogue Pictures and Relativity Media’s do-it-yourself sci-fi thriller “Skyline,” with Universal distribbing Stateside, also enters the fray at 2,881 engagements, while Par’s journo comedy “Morning Glory” got off to a rocky start Wednesday, earning $1.1 million at 2,518.

The specialty biz saw a much-needed uptick last weekend with high-profile pics “127 Hours” and “Fair Game” entering the market.

Fox Searchlight expands “127 Hours” to 22 engagements, up from four, while Summit’s “Fair Game” goes wider to 175 after opening to a solid per-screen average of $17,804 from 46 locations. “127 Hours” drew the year’s second-highest per screen average last weekend, with $66,213, behind “The Kids Are All Right.”

Last weekend’s top international player, Warner Bros.’ “Due Date,” which tallied $22 million from 36 territories, adds only France in its second outing. Fox rolls out “Unstoppable” day and date in 40 territories, including China and European markets including France, Germany and Spain.

“Unstoppable” stands as the first Fox offering since the studio’s September title “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” which has $127.6 million so far in global B.O. receipts.

Fox’s latest offering also marks the fifth collaboration between Washington and helmer Tony Scott. The duo most recently teamed last year for Sony’s “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” which opened with $23.4 million, the highest opening for a Washington-Scott pic. “Unstoppable,” co-starring Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson, could reach similar heights, but “Pelham’s” summer berth added more oomph to its opening take than “Unstoppable” may have.

The film, rated PG-13, should play best with males, though femmes also should turn out based on popularity for both Washington and Pine. Washington’s other 2010 pic, “The Book of Eli,” which debuted with $32.8 million in January, saw a 60%-40% male-female split.

“Unstoppable” drew favorable reactions after screening for industryites at this year’s ShowEast exhibitor confab, and with mostly positive early reviews, the pic’s exhib enthusiasm could translate among general auds.

U’s “Skyline” also will sell ducats to young males, though studio reps expect the sci-fier to attract mostly fanboy auds. “Skyline,” directed by Colin and Greg Strause, was budgeted at $10 million. U said the film should top out near that amount.

“Skyline” is made in a style similar to “Cloverfield” and “District 9,” both of which earned sizable domestic grosses, $80 million and $115 million, respectively. To keep costs for “Skyline” down, the Strause brothers, who served on the vfx team for pics including “Avatar” and “2012,” lensed most of the film in their apartment.

U used an aggressive online marketing campaign for the film, releasing six fragmented clips from the film, depicting the invasion of Los Angeles.

Looking to benefit from a counterprogramming bid to femmes, Par’s “Morning Glory,” toplining Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, launched midweek with modest results.

Unless word of mouth kicks in, most B.O. observers predict the pic will fall significantly below its fellow openers.

McAdams stars as an aspiring broadcast journalist hired to produce a failing morning TV news show, with Ford and Keaton as the show’s sparring anchors.

Meanwhile, “Megamind” is expected to see the steady hold typical of toons. The film has grossed $52 million to date but has seen softer midweek perfs comparable to DWA’s first-quarter toon “How to Train Your Dragon.” The two pics debuted with similar openings; “Dragon” started out slightly lower with $43.7 million and dropped just 34% in its soph sesh.

Among the frame’s other top holdovers, Warner’s “Due Date” enters its second outing as similarly male-targeted entries could cut into its core demo. “Due Date” opened with a respectable $32.7 million domestically. Lionsgate’s “For Colored Girls,” which launched last weekend with $19.5 million, is expected to show typical resilience for helmer Tyler Perry.

Roadside Attractions’ enviro-docu “Cool It” enters the limited release sked at 35 engagements, while much buzzed-about indie pic “Tiny Furniture,” from multihyphenate Lena Dunham, bows at one New York location.

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