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Box Office: Matt Damon’s ‘Elysium’ Orbits $30 Mil-$35 Mil Opening

'We're the Millers,' 'Planes' will fight for second place

As the last of the summer’s apocalyptic-themed pics, Sony’s “Elysium” looks to do somewhat better than earlier end-of-the-world flops. But with the $115 million-budgeted film tracking for a decent but unspectacular low-to-mid $30 million opening, Sony really needs the sci-fi actioner to take off to help offset the studio’s otherwise disappointing summer.

Warner Bros.-New Line’s modestly budgeted “We’re the Millers,” which cost $37 million to produce, looks to get off on the right foot this weekend, tracking in the $35 million-$40 million range for five days. Warners launched the R-rated comedy Wednesday to benefit from the remaining summer weekdays, with $6.8 million.

“Millers” should gross somewhere in the low-$20 millions Friday through Sunday.

However, the film to watch this weekend will be Disney Toon Studio’s “Cars” spin-off, “Planes,” which bows at 3,702 domestic locations. As of Thursday afternoon, the toon was tracking to earn north of $20 million through Sunday, though some observers say the pic could see an opening as high as $30 million. That all depends on how broadly the film plays beyond just families with young boys. Disney clearly has a lock on that demo, pushing the “Cars” brand front-and-center in its marketing. “Planes” will struggle to have the same overall appeal as a Pixar film, however.

Crowding the family market, Fox’s “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” bowed Wednesday, with $5.5 million; but the film struggled Thursday, dropping north of 40% day-to-day by mid-afternoon.

“Percy Jackson” should gross in the high-teens in three days, with a five-day take pushing $30 million.

Overseas, Fox launches “Percy” day-and-date in two major markets, Mexico and the U.K. Sony, likewise, is keeping its cool with “Elysium,” bowing the film this weekend in just four territories, including Russia.

Financed by MRC, and co-produced by Bill Block’s QED, “Elysium” — the latest vfx-laden cautionary tale from helmer Neill Blomkamp — is a safer bet financially than some of the summer’s earlier big-budget apocalyptic gambles, including “After Earth,” “World War Z” and “Pacific Rim.”

For “Elysium,” stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster — as well as interest in Blomkamp after his “District 9” — boost audience interest, especially since auds like those actors best in action films.

Blomkamp’s 2009 hit “District 9,” which cost only about a third of what “Elysium” cost, wound up making more than $200 million worldwide, including north of $115 million domestically. That film launched around the same time as “Elysium,” which bodes well for its potential playability.

Meanwhile, “We’re the Millers,” starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, also looks to display strong legs, with an ‘A’ CinemaScore. By comparison, other leggy R-rated comedies, such as “Ted” and “The Heat,” scored ‘A-‘ ratings. Depending on how well “Millers” does this weekend, the film could end up with more than $90 million Stateside, pushing a nine-figure domestic cume.

There seems to be little gas left in the tank for family films this summer, thanks to a barrage of animated and live-action family fare earlier. “Despicable Me 2” and “The Smurfs 2” still are doing sizable business at the box office. Boding well for “Elysium,” after the glut of apocalyptic pics, is the near-month gap since “Pacific Rim” bowed on July 12.

At the specialty box office, the Weinstein Co.’s label Radius label bows Linda Lovelace-biopic “Lovelace” theatrically and on VOD. Roadside Attractions’ Sundance pickup “In a World” also bows this weekend.

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