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‘Act of Valor,’ ‘Good Deeds’ enter box office

Newbies take on holdover pair at B.O.

Two modestly budgeted newcomers at this weekend’s domestic B.O. are looking to outshine holdovers: Relativity Media’s Navy Seals pic, “Act of Valor,” and Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry film, “Good Deeds.”

Last weekend, holdovers “Safe House” and “The Vow” managed to fend off a trio of wide openers. But bizzers are torn as to where this week’s new films will land.

Both Relativity and Lionsgate predict conservative bows for “Act of Valor” and “Good Deeds,” in the mid-teens. Other pundits predict numbers north of $20 million each.

Summit’s femme-targeted thriller “Gone” also will vie for audience attention, with expectations in the high single digits. The same can be said for Universal’s Paul Rudd-Jennifer Aniston laffer “Wanderlust,” skewing towards over-25 women.

The Oscars won’t have much effect on the weekend box office, with few expansions among nominated fare, except for “The Artist,” which the Weinstein Co. is broadening to 966 from 808 Stateside locations. TWC plans to expand the film to upwards of 2,000 locations after Sunday’s ceremony.

After last weekend’s titles split up the winnings, moviegoers again are expected to spread the wealth.

In favor of a “Valor” win, some bizzers point to Thursday’s healthy bump in pre-weekend tracking. On the other hand, there are few comparative titles for the military actioner, which features real active duty Navy Seals.

“Valor” was produced and financed by Bandito Brothers for a reported $12 million. Relativity acquired the pic for $13 million; the company’s exposure was cut to $5.5 million after foreign pre-sales, added to a P&A spend north of $20 million.

For “Good Deeds,” which cost less than $15 million, Lionsgate insists “Safe House” could steal away some of Perry’s usual African-American aud, among which “Safe House” is drawing 21% of first-choice votes vs. “Good Deeds” at 28%, according to one tracking service. Perry pics usually score in the 30%-40% range among African-Americans.

Of the weekend’s opening quartet, “Act of Valor” and “Good Deeds” sold the most advance tickets on Thursday via Fandango, with 7% and 2%, respectively. “The Hunger Games,” which opens March 23, dominated Thursday’s ticket sales with 82%.

The wide openers are all low-risk projects.

Budgeted in the $30 million range, comedy “Wanderlust” should play well in ancillary markets. “Gone,” meanwhile, reps a net risk for Summit at around $2 million.

“Good Deeds” could surprise this weekend, based on support for Perry. The filmmaker’s spring releases traditionally open north of $20 million. For instance, last year’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family” launched with $25 million, while Perry’s “For Colored Girls” bowed November 2010 to $19.5 million. “Good Deeds” should over-index in markets such as Atlanta, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Likewise, “Act of Valor” has a potential upside considering Relativity’s targeted screening campaign for military and faith-based demos. Relativity hosted two screenings of “Valor” at the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.

At the overseas box office, Warner Bros.-New Line’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” should have another solid weekend, relying mostly on holdover markets. Pic scored $27.5 million last weekend — its second consecutive frame on top — for a fantastic international cume of $130 million. “Journey 2” opens today in Italy.

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