A pair of ass-kicking compadres in Fox’s “The Heat” and Sony’s “White House Down,” each tracking in the low-$30 millions, are no match for Disney/Pixar’s kid-pic holdover “Monsters University,” which should top the domestic box office in the low-$40 million range.

Paramount’s repeat player, “World War Z,” also could make a run for second place, depending how well it holds in its second outing: A 50% drop — which is the best possible outcome — would land the film similarly in the low-$30 millions after last weekend’s $66 million domestic opening. “Z” has cumed north of $88 million through Wednesday.

Summer box office currently is tracking 15% ahead of 2012’s record-setting season. Totals should take a hit this weekend, since “Ted” and “Magic Mike” led this same frame last year, with $54 million and $39 million, respectively.

Observers are split as to which new entry will earn more. “The Heat,” starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, had a narrow edge in early ticket sales by mid-day Thursday, according to Fandango. Moreover, the R-rated comedy also is nearly doubling ticket sales of “Bridesmaids” and “Identity Thief” at this same point.

Box office has been firing on all cylinders lately, and there’s a chance that this weekend’s crop could also overperform.

For “White House Down,” which toplines Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, the potential for an upside is less likely given its mixed reviews so far, which could lead to unenthusiastic word-of-mouth. The action film, budgeted at around $150 million, kicks off this weekend in only a few Asian territories. Sony will begin rolling out the film in major markets like Russia starting mid-July.

“White House Down,” from helmer Roland Emmerich, represents a far more uncertain financial gamble compared to “The Heat,” which cost $43 million to produce. The former film looks to hit similar heights as Emmerich’s 2008 film “10,000 B.C.,” which became a financial wash costing around $100 million (not including marketing) with a worldwide gross at nearly of $270 million. “Down” could see stronger legs overseas based on popularity for Foxx mostly.

Meanwhile, domestic playability for “The Heat” appears strong, especially among over-25 women looking to have a girls-night-out. McCarthy has become a growing force at the box office. Bullock has a significant following, as well.

An opening in the low-to-mid $30 millions would position “The Heat” better than 2011’s breakout comedy “Bridesmaids,” which debuted with $26 million and wound up grossing a boffo $169 million domestically. Grossing a similar multiple is a tall order for any film, however.

Monsters University,” which scored the second-highest opening for a Pixar film last weekend, has reached $115 million in its first six days Stateside. Last year, “Brave” fell 49% in its second frame, though the year before “Cars 2” dropped 60%. “Monsters U” should fall somewhere in the middle, considering it earned a solid ‘A’ CinemaScore rating opening weekend.

At the specialty B.O., Roadside Attractions launches Jason Statham’s latest action pic “Redemption” at 19 locations. Sony Pictures Classics also is bowing Pedro Almodovar’s comedy “I’m So Excited” at five total theaters in New York and L.A.


Film (Distributor): Locations

  • White House Down (Sony): 3,222
  • The Heat (Fox): 3,181
  • Redemption (Roadside): 19
  • Byzantium (IFC): 6
  • I’m So Excited (Sony Classics): 5