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Box Office: ‘Son of God’ Prays for $25 Million Weekend, Gaining on ‘Non-Stop’

The battle for box office glory during Oscar weekend will be tight with Universal’s Liam Neeson actioner “Non-Stop” expected to wind up around $25 million, just edging out Fox’s Biblical drama “Son of God” which should end up at $21 to $25 million.

Friday estimates placed “Non-Stop” with $8 million to $9 million while “Son of God” was tracking in the $7 million to $7.5 million range — including $1.2 million in late-night shows on Thursday. The first-day showing for “Son of God” caused execs to raise their forecasts, which had been in the $15 million to $20 million range.

“Non-Stop” and “Son of God” look likely to top the fourth weekend of “The Lego Movie,” which has notched three straight winning frames. The Warner Bros.-Village Roadshow toon appeared headed for a Friday total of $4.3 million but business should surge enough on Saturday and Sunday to finish the weekend at about $20 million.

“Lego” should wind up the weekend with around $208 million in U.S. box office. It’s still being rolled out in international markets, where it’s nearing $100 million.

Universal has pitched “Non-Stop” to the public as a Neeson action-thriller along the lines of 2009’s “Taken,” which bowed at $24 million and went on to gross $145 million domestically. “Taken 2” opened in 2012 with a $49 million launch weekend in the U.S. and went on to cume $140 million domestically.

“Son of God” has seen strong advance online ticket sales, according to both Fandango and Movietickets.com. Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have also campaigned aggressively for the project, based on the couple’s miniseries “The Bible.”

Burnett and Downey struck a distribution pact last September with 20th Century Fox for “Son of God,” derived from the 10-hour miniseries. The movie focuses on the story of Jesus, played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, from his birth through the Resurrection.

The second weekend of Relativity’s “3 Days to Kill” and the fourth weekend of Sony’s “Monuments” are headed for fourth place with about $7 million to $8 million each. “Monuments Men” has shown decent staying power, going past $60 million domestically.

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