TWC expanding Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' to 788 locations

The losing streak at the domestic box office is sliding into a fourth straight weekend.

An oddball quartet of new entries, plus the Weinstein Co.’s nationwide expansion of “The Master,” will lead the session, which should total in the high-$90 millions through Sunday. That would be off from this time last year by as much as 20%, a bigger drop than any of the past three weekends.

Warner Bros.’ Clint Eastwood baseball pic “Trouble With the Curve,” which leads with 3,212 locations, and Relativity Media’s thriller “House at the End of the Street” (at 3,082) will jockey for first place, tracking in the mid-teens. Observers suggest “House” has a slight edge.

Other wide openers include Lionsgate’s comic-book actioner “Dredd 3D” and Open Road’s cop pic “End of Watch,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Both are expected to land in the high single digits, though either could potentially reach $10 million.

As the frame’s biggest wild card, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” expands to 788 Stateside engagements, including seven more 70mm-equipped theaters. TWC looks to build on the film’s record per-screen average last weekend, though its arthouse leanings may struggle beyond the largest U.S. markets.

Summit’s coming-of-age pic “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” starring Emma Watson bows today at four locations in New York and L.A.

Given the B.O.’s recent sluggishness, soph-sesh holdovers “Resident Evil: Retribution” and “Finding Nemo” 3D are unlikely to touch double digits. “Retribution” should drop north of 60%, comparable to past “Resident Evil” installments; “Nemo,” meanwhile, is expected to drop closer to 3D “Beauty and the Beast,” which fell 50% in its second frame, than “The Lion King” (down 27%).

While bizzers are moderating expectations this weekend, “House” has a few ingredients that could help it overperform. Jennifer Lawrence, anyone?

Relativity timed its TV campaign to coincide with the homevid launch of “The Hunger Games” in August. What’s more, distrib waited nearly a year after acquiring “House” (for $2.5 million) to release the film in the wake of “Games,” which went on to gross more than $408 million domestically.

Budgeted at $10 million, “House” co-stars Elisabeth Shue and Max Thieriot. Mark Tonderai directed, with Peter Block, Hal Lieberman and Aaron Ryder producing.

Friday’s grosses will be a telling sign in the battle between “House” and “Trouble With the Curve,” as the latter film should see a healthy bump on Saturday, thanks to over-25 aud support. “Curve” co-stars Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams should help broaden pic interest to younger filmgoers.

Similar to “House,” which has a solid Hispanic aud base, Open Road’s $7 million-budgeted “End of Watch” could target that demo nicely, launching at 2,730 playdates. Pic follows two police officers in South Central L.A.

“Dredd,” meanwhile, bows at 2,506 locations, of which approximately 2,200 are 3D. Lionsgate, which is under the gun only for P&A costs, began marketing the film to its core under-25 male demo at this year’s Comic-Con. As part of the campaign, Lionsgate partnered with publisher 2000AD and Motion Comic to create an online comic-strip prequel to “Dredd.”

The film, which stars Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby, opened the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto Film Fest, and also screened at Fantastic Fest.

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