'Battle,' 'Mars' take on box office

Sony goes to battle this weekend at the domestic box office, with its alien-invasion pic “Battle: Los Angeles” launching wide at 3,417 locations.

Disney’s 3D toon “Mars Needs Moms,” opening at 3,117 engagements, including 2,440 3D-equipped, and Warner Bros.’ “Red Riding Hood” at 3,030 also bow Friday.

Despite the diverse stable of fresh fare, Paramount’s toon champ “Rango,” which opened last weekend to a solid $38.1 million, could put up an able fight, boosted by family appeal and strong word-of-mouth.

“Battle: Los Angeles,” budgeted for a reported $70 million, stands the best chance to overpower “Rango,” which handily beat mid-week competish for a Stateside cume of $43.8 million through Wednesday. “Battle,” set to go day-and-date in overseas markets like Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the U.K., should register primarily with young male audiences, and is tracking to hit the high side of $20 million domestically.In limited release, Focus Features bows period lit adaptation “Jane Eyre” at four locations in New York and L.A. Focus is aiming for a slow rollout, hoping to tap into residual Oscar momentum among adult moviegoers.

Less-restrictive PG-13 ratings for both “Battle: Los Angeles” and “Red Riding Hood” should mean higher turnout for their core under-25 demos. And while “Red Riding Hood,” from “Twilight” helmer Catherine Hardwicke, is garnering heat from the “Twilight” crowd, “Battle” is expected to play best with males. A date effect, however, could impact “Battle,” considering “Red Riding Hood” is more likely to attract couples. “Hood,” budgeted in the $30 million range, is tracking to open around $17 million.

“Battle,” directed by Jonathan Liebesman, tells the story on an invading alien race, with the film focusing on L.A.’s fight. Pic toplines Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Michael Pena. Sony mounted an aggressive marketing campaign for the film, highlighting the anniversary of actual events surrounding mysterious L.A. sightings in 1942.

Meanwhile, Warners is hoping to capitalize on its supernatural themes in “Red Riding Hood,” a darker re-imagining of the classic children’s tale. Pic stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular heroine, with Gary Oldman, Virginia Madsen and Max Irons in supporting roles.

Disney’s CGI-motion capture toon “Mars Needs Moms” will play best with families, though tracking for the film has been soft leading up to the weekend. Family films historically have been difficult to peg, which could be some good news for the toon, since most B.O. observers expect it to launch between $8 million and $10 million.

“Mars Needs Moms” marks the last toon from producer Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers shop to go through Disney. Toon is reported to have cost $150 million, sources say. And while most toons are expensive, the expected soft bow for “Mars” would still make it a significant misstep for the Mouse House, a studio known for its spot-on marketing to family audiences.

Par’s “Rango” also will likely take away some family audiences from “Mars,” though the latter is set to play at 194 3D digital Imax screens.

Like “Rango,” Universal’s “The Adjustment Bureau” enters its soph sesh after a solid $21.2 million bow. Both “Bureau” and “Rango” also scored fine figures overseas last weekend, with $$10.4 million and $16.8 million, respectively.”Rango” expands to markets like Australia, Brazil and Italy, while “Bureau” will go in Germany.

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