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‘Elysium,’ ‘Planes’ Jockeying for No. 1 Position at the Box Office

Sony's big-budget Matt Damon pic off to a clunky start

UPDATE: Disney’s “Planes” is riding Matt Damon’s big-budget tail at the U.S. box office Friday afternoon. Analysts have both the 3D toon and Sony’s “Elysium” circling the $30 million mark for the weekend, according to early ticket sales.

Disney believes its “Cars” spinoff, made for only $50 million, will get an additional lift from Saturday matinees while Sony insiders suggest the R-rated Neill Blomkamp sci-fier, produced for $115 million, may see a boost in adult audiences late Friday. Either way, “it’s too tough to tell” as one insider says, who will land at No. 1 based on preliminary results.

In third place, Warner Bros.’ comedy “We’re the Millers” continues to place nicely since opening Wednesday. After earning $11.5 million in two days, the Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis comedy is now on track for a five-day opening in the $35 million range — that’s just a hair behind Anison and Sudeikis’ 2011 smash hit, “Horrible Bosses,” which opened to $28 million in three days before going on to earn $200 million worldwide.

Fox’s “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” this week’s other Wednesday opener, is projected to debut in the low-$20 millions.  The figures would represent a 30% drop-off from the original “Percy Jackson’s” debut in 2011 ($31 million in three days), marking what could very well be the last installment in Fox’s teen fantasy franchise.

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Though it’s hardly a smash hit, Sony’s second original sci-fi tentpole of the summer is at least faring better than the studio’s first go-round.

Elysium,” starring Matt Damon, earned a modest $1.6 million in Thursday night screenings, beginning at 10 p.m. That’s slightly above Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan’s big-budget “After Earth,” which, after opening to $1 million Thursday night, went on to crater domestically for Sony with a weak $27 million weekend.

But “Elysium” is notably trailing Neill Blomkamp’s last film, “District 9,” which, on a $30 million budget, performed much better ($37 million) with a no-name cast.

Disney’s “Planes” and Fox’s “Percy Jackson” sequel will target family audiences while early riser “We’re the Millers,” starring Jennifer Aniston, already opened strongly on Wednesday with $6.8 million.

As of Friday morning, “Elysium” remained the favorite to win the weekend.

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