DreamWorks Animation toon expected to bow at No. 2 over holiday weekend

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Even with increased family moviegoing over the holiday weekend, a projected $25 million-plus bow for “Rise of the Guardians” (above) would place Paramount’s final DreamWorks Animation toon among DWA’s lowest three-day domestic openers, ceding first place to Summit holdover “Breaking Dawn — Part 2.”

Early tracking suggests “Rise,” which bows today with 60% of kids out of school, will hit the $40 million domestic mark over the five-day frame, while the “Twilight” finale is likely to gross at least $60 million in the same period. If the weekend plays similarly to pastinstallments, “Part 2″ would fall 70% in its second frame, yielding $42 million in three days. Domestic cume was $151 million through Monday.

The weekend’s remaining newcomers — Fox’s PG-rated “Life of Pi” and FilmDistrict’s “Red Dawn” remake — will each land in the mid-to-high teens during the long weekend.

Tracking for $145 million-budgeted “Rise of the Guardians” has been on the soft side, particularly for a DWA toon. The film’s projected three-day perf would put it below “Puss in Boots,” which debuted with $34 million late last October, and just above the 2006 pic “Flushed Away,” which opened to $18 million.

The weekend presents a bit of box office deja vu, as “Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ won bragging rights in its soph sesh last year with a five-day gross of nearly $62 million, while Disney’s family-skewing “The Muppets” scored second place with a less-than-stellar $41.5 million. Still, recent robust B.O. could be a reason for optimism.

And holiday-themed pics tend to leg out through Christmas: The projected bow for “Rise” would be in line with the $23 million three-day bow for “Polar Express,” which went on to a Stateside cume of $162 million. Paramount is releasing “Rise” day-and-date this weekend in a few territories, including Argentina, Russia and South Korea. Pic expands throughout the rest of the international marketplace through January.

As the weekend’s biggest wild card domestically, Ang Lee’s $115 million 3D epic, “Life of Pi,” should do well with arthouse auds and fans of the bestselling book. But the film also could interest some families with older children. Similar to “Rise,” Fox expects “Pi” to leg out slowly through the holiday season depending on word of mouth. The film has generated positive buzz for its 3D presentation; Fox secured 90% of the pic’s total locations in 3D.

“Life of Pi” and “Red Dawn” were tracking similarly as of Monday, though the latter film boasted the highest number of first choice votes among any of the new entries. “Red Dawn” will generate the majority of its biz from men, especially fans of the 1984 original. FilmDistrict acquired domestic rights from MGM in September 2011. Pic was later shelved for several years because of MGM’s financial travails.

As part of the film’s digital marketing campaign, FilmDistrict devised an online game site where visitors could defend their hometowns. It also screened at more than 100 military bases.

The Weinstein Co.’s “Silver Linings Playbook” expands Wednesday to roughly 420 locations, scaled down significantly from a previously planned wide release. TWC previewed “Silver Linings” last weekend at 16 playdates, which yielded a solid per-screen average of $27,688.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight opens Hollywood biopic “Hitchcock” at 17 locations Friday. Sony Pictures Classics’ “Rust and Bone” bows this weekend at two.

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