‘Tower Heist’ aims to steal B.O. crown

'Harold & Kumar 3D' also opening this weekend

A pair of comedies, “Tower Heist” and “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” look to brighten the mood at what has been a fairly glum boxoffice climate in recent weeks.

Universal’s PG-13 ensemble laffer “Tower Heist” is expected to bow between $25 million and $30 million through Sunday, while New Line’s third “Harold & Kumar” installment, distribbed by Warner Bros., should land in the high-teens, according to B.O. pundits.

Both wide releases will have to fight against a recent moviegoing slump, though “Tower Heist” has the advantage of appealing to a broader aud. “Harold & Kumar” may struggle to break out beyond its core under-25 male demo.

Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” should continue to dominate overseas. Last weekend, the 3D motion-capture pic debuted in 19 international territories, nearly two months before its U.S. bow on Dec. 21, with a stellar $56.6 million via distribs Sony and Paramount. Pic expands this weekend to Russia.

Overseas auds have also supported Par-DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots,” which bowed last weekend with $17.2 million. Domestically, the toon should hold well enough for second place, with a soph-sesh take projected at around $22 million, or a 35% weekend-to-weekend drop.

The weekend’s players won’t match last year’s record November kickoff set by new entries “Megamind,” “Due Date” and “For Colored Girls.”

U said tracking for “Tower Heist” is similar to “Due Date,” which opened with $32.7 million, though the current slowdown at the turnstiles has tempered expectations.

“Tower Heist,” which launches today at 3,367 locations, made headlines early last month when U announced it would make the film available via a limited premium video-on-demand platform just three weeks after its theatrical bow. The studio tabled the plan after exhib Cinemark threatened to boycott the pic.

Budgeted at a reported $85 million, “Tower Heist” also is launching this weekend in 25 overseas markets, including Germany, Spain and the U.K.

“Harold & Kumar” cost significantly less than “Tower,” with a budget at around $20 million, according to New Line. But the R-rated laffer is more of a wildcard, since under-25 filmgoers have been AWOL from plexes lately.

“We’re somewhere between ‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘Jackass,’ ” quipped Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman.

Last year, Par’s “Jackass 3D” scored the highest-ever October bow ($50.4 million), though that was topped last month by another younger-skewing franchise offering, “Paranormal Activity 3,” with $52.6 million. Lionsgate’s “Kick-Ass” bowed at $19.8 million last April.

Like “Jackass 3D,” New Line’s latest “Harold & Kumar” pic could benefit from the stoner franchise’s popularity among young males. Warner is releasing the film at 2,875 locations, with 2,943 3D screens and roughly 1,000 midnight showtimes on Thursday.

In limited release, Anchor Bay bows Sundance pickup “The Son of No One,” toplining Channing Tatum and Al Pacino, at 10 U.S. playdates.

Sony’s “Anonymous,” which opened last weekend to a respectable $3,856 per-screen average from 265 locations, broadens to 513, while the Weinstein Co. is re-releasing Holocaust drama “Sarah’s Key” at 318 theaters. Pic first opened on July 22, with just north of $7 million domestically.

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