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Box Office: ‘Kick-Ass 2’ Should Win Crowded Weekend; ‘TheButler’ Looks at Second

Universal sequel tracking in the high-teens; Weinstein drama expected to gross in the mid-teens

Another crowded weekend at the domestic box office gives audiences plenty to choose from, though tracking suggests Universal’s “Kick-Ass 2” and the Weinstein Co.’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” have the clear winning edge with moviegoers.

The Butler,” which is projected to earn in the mid-teens, according to Weinstein, is outselling any other film Thursday in advanced tickets. That’s likely because the Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey starrer will attract a mostly older audience, who typically inflate advanced ticket sales. By comparison, “Kick-Ass 2,” which pundits expect to gross similarly to its predecessor, at $19.8 million, will attract a much younger — and more impulsive — crowd than “The Butler.”

Also bowing wide this weekend, Open Road’s Steve Jobs biopic “Jobs” is tracking in the $8 million-$10 million range, while Relativity Media’s thriller “Paranoia” should land with, at best, a modest $5 million.

With no new family titles entering the market, Disney’s “Cars” spin-off “Planes” should hold well in its second frame after overperforming with north of $22 million last weekend. Also, Universal’s stalwart holdover “Despicable Me 2” continues to pull down impressive weekend-to-weekend drops entering its seventh frame. The toon already has amassed a whopping $341 million domestically.

There are the same number of wide entries this weekend as there were last, with six more slated to bow over the next two weekends. However, that’s typical of this time of year, as August is seen as a last-ditch dumping ground in the summer. Weinstein moved up “The Butler” to this date after screening the film positively for commercial audiences, as well as for arthouse and African-American moviegoers. The mid-August release strategy is similar to “The Help,” which grossed nearly $170 million two years ago with an opening weekend of $26 million.

“The Butler,” which had more than 40 financial backers, cost in the upper-$20 million range. Meanwhile, “Kick-Ass 2” cost around $28 million to produce, with Universal acquiring distribution rights before the film went into production in September 2012. The sequel reunites its young cast, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz, with newcomers like Jim Carrey, who blasted the film for its violence several months ago.

Paranoia” is the most expensive pic of the weekend’s new quartet, costing $35 million, from IM Global and Demarest Films. Relativity came on board to handle distribution and marketing during last year’s Cannes Film Market. The film could see decent-enough overseas grosses given the popularity of star Liam Hemsworth.

Ashton Kutcher should provide some oomph in the States in the title role in “Jobs.” Open Road acquired rights to the $12 million-$13 million-budgeted film prior to the Sundance Film Festival this year.

At the specialty box office, IFC Films releases crime drama “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” at three Stateside locations. Sony Pictures Classics bows Keri Russell comedy “Austenland” at four locations in New York and L.A. The distrib also expands Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” to nearly 200 locations, up from 119, in the film’s fourth frame. Pic has cumed north of $6 million to date.

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