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‘Immortals’ to test the B.O. gods

'Jack and Jill,' 'J. Edgar' will also try to knock off 'Puss in Boots'

Relativity Media has something to prove this weekend as Ryan Kavanaugh’s newbie distrib launches its first big-budget homegrown worldwide release, 3D effort “Immortals,” into a depressed domestic market — particularly as the under-25 auds that the swords-and-sandals epic is courting have recently stayed away from theaters.

The film bows today at 3,112 Stateside locations, of which about 70% are in 3D, with an additional 31 day-and-date international markets via local distribs.

Also bowing Stateside are Sony’s Adam Sandler PG-rated “Jack and Jill,” at 3,438 playdates, while Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” goes wide at 1,910 locations. Warner Bros. launched the pic limited on Wednesday, earning $52,645 from seven locations in New York, L.A., San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Immortals” is expected to win the weekend with some $25 million, followed closely by third-week holdover “Puss in Boots” and “Jack and Jill,” both tracking in the low-$20 millions.

While bizzers eagerly anticipate B.O. results of Relativity’s first inhouse blockbuster, Kavanaugh, who spoke Tuesday at Variety ‘s Future of Film Summit, boldly said that box office accounts for only a small portion of a film’s profitability: “The practical reality is — box office is 20% of the pie, and it’s somewhat irrelevant.”

“Immortals” will test that theory.

Relativity is exposed for $75 million of the film’s near-$90 million budget, after tax rebates and foreign pre-sales, with an approximately $35 million P&A spend that’s shared by marketing partner Virgin Produced. The studio said it’s confident that a $25 million opening would put the film on track to get in the black.

Even if “Immortals” cumes $75 million domestically — an optimistic three-times multiple, given the holiday play period — Relativity still shares half the B.O. with exhibitors. Ancillary profits, including a Netflix deal, will help boost the pic’s bottom line, though bizzers question whether it will be enough.

Pic should appeal to international auds, but Relativity’s business m.o. of pre-selling foreign rights will prevent it from reaping much of anything from a potential overseas bonanza. And domestic B.O. conditions have been sluggish lately, especially with under-25 auds not hitting the plexes.

PG-rated “Jack and Jill,” budgeted at a reported $80 million, should appeal to a mostly family aud, as well as fans of Sandler. Pic will compete for families with “Puss,” which could see a drop of around 35% in its third frame. “Puss in Boots” may hold better than that, however, considering the toon’s hugely impressive 3% drop last weekend.

Warner’s “J. Edgar,” meanwhile, is projected to gross $10 million-$12 million through Sunday — in line with 2006’s “Flags of Our Fathers,” which cumed $33.6 million.

The Leonardo DiCaprio-led biopic should have a strong hold on the adult market; the B.O.’s existing over-25 players, such as “Moneyball” and “The Ides of March,” enter their eighth and sixth frames, respectively.

At the specialty B.O., Magnolia launches Lars von Trier’s Cannes winner “Melancholia” at 15 locations in eight markets.

Fox Searchlight’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” which played nicely last weekend at 98 locations, expands in its fourth frame to 183 playdates. Stateside cume is $1.2 million.

Paramount Vantage’s “Like Crazy” broadens to 70 engagements, up from 16 last weekend. Cume is more than $500,000.

Related: Sources: Relativity, JP Morgan talks stall

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