Box Office: ‘Get Hard,’ ‘Home’ in Tight Race for First

Prison comedy “Get Hard” and animated adventure “Home” are locked in a tight race for first place at the weekend box office.

Both pictures appeal to distinctive segments of the movie-going public — “Get Hard” with its R-rating and crude humor hopes to enlist males, while “Home” is the de facto choice for families who have already caught “Cinderella.” Warner Bros., which is distributing “Get Hard,” is pegging the opening at $35 million, while DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind “Home,” is projecting a debut in the low to mid $30 million range. Most analysts predicted “Get Hard” would come out on top, but ticketing site Fandango reports that “Home” has pulled ahead in terms of pre-sales, so the family film may have the edge.

A lot is riding on “Home,” the story of a cute alien who befriends a young girl, when it bows across 3,707 locations domestically. DreamWorks Animation has had a punishing year and a half, one marred by failed sales to SoftBank and Hasbro, as well as a series of costly film flops. Though “Home” is on pace to open to sizable numbers and had a strong $20.1 million debut from 10 international territories last weekend, it carries a massive $130 million price tag. It will need to score with overseas audiences if it wants to climb into the black.

“Get Hard” arrives with a more economical, $40 million budget, though it too has had its troubles. A preview at SXSW left many in the audience decrying the film, which centers on a white man who hires a black man to be his prison coach, as racist and homophobic. However, as “American Sniper” can attest, controversy sells and Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell appear to have deep enough fanbases to weather any negative press. It’s also been awhile since a comedy has created much of a stir at the multiplexes — the last one being Hart’s January hit, “The Wedding Ringer.”

“Both ‘Get Hard’ and ‘Home’ come into a pretty open marketplace in terms of comedies and animated films,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “The playability for both films looms large outside of their debuts.”

Among holdovers, “Insurgent” should fall more than 50% from its opening weekend, to earn roughly $23 million in its sophomore frame, while “Cinderella” is expected to generate approximately $21 million.

Although the battle between “Home” and “Get Hard” should generate the most coverage, Hollywood will be watching the performance of “It Follows” to see if the indie horror pic can capitalize on rave reviews and strong word-of-mouth in its first week of wide release. The Radius-TWC release has made a sterling $565,537 in a handful of theaters, and expands from 32 to 1,200 locations. It’s been such a strong showing that the company has postponed a planned VOD debut.

“It’s a huge validation of a slow burn theatrical run,” said Phil Contrino, an analyst with BoxOffice.com. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes off.”

There are a number of indie titles all vying for attention this weekend, including Noah Baumbach’s look at a couple in crisis, “While We’re Young”; Abel Ferrara’s deep dive into the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex scandal, “Welcome to New York”; and “Serena,” which is getting a day-and-date release despite the presence of stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

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