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Box Office: ‘Need for Speed’ in Dogfight with ‘Mr. Peabody’

Disney-Dreamworks’ “Need for Speed” is facing a dogfight this weekend at the U.S. box office from Fox’s canine toon “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.”

Friday estimates showed “Speed” slowing down significantly from initial forecasts, dropping from the mid 20s to around $19 million to $23 million at 3,115 locations. The second frame of “Peabody” was coming in slightly above predictions in the $21 million to $25 million range.

“Speed” got out of the gate with a respectable $1.1 million from Thursday-night showings in the U.S. and appeared likely to lead Friday at around $7 million. “Peabody” and Warner Bros.-Legendary’s “300: Rise of an Empire” were each tracking slightly north of $6 million on Friday.

“Speed” carries a $66 million price tag for DreamWorks, which saw lagging performances from recent titles “The Fifth Estate” and “Delivery Man.” The marketing has emphasized a combo of the racing, the story’s videogame roots and leading man Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad” to persuade its core demo of young males to buy tickets.

“Peabody,” which grossed $42 million in its first week, has the benefit of some of its core demo of schoolchildren going on spring vacation. It should easily win on Saturday with as much as $11 million.

300: Rise of an Empire,” which grossed $59 million in its first week, appears headed for a close third this weekend at around $19 million.

Warner Bros. saw a solid start for midnight screenings of “Veronica Mars” with $260,000 at 95 locations, many which sold out weeks ago. The Kickstarter-funded “Mars” is opening at 291 theaters, mostly at AMC locations along with a simultaneous launch on video-on-demand.

“Mars,” starring Kristen Bell, has a 76% “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatos review aggregator site.

Lionsgate’s “Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club” is also opening this weekend with tracking coming in well below initial estimates to finished in the $12 million-$14 million range at 1,896 locations. “Club” took in an estimated $180,000 to $200,000 at late-night Thursday screenings.

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