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‘Exodus’ Will Rule U.S. Box Office With $25 Million Weekend

Christian Bale’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is set to take the U.S. box office crown this weekend with early Friday estimates showing an opening of about $25 million.

Fox’s Biblical epic looks likely to take in about $9 million Friday, including $1.2 million from late Thursday shows. A $25 million launch would be in line with recent forecasts, the most bullish of which went as high as $30 million.

The weekend will finish well below the year-ago period, when “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” kicked off with $73.6 million. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” opens next Friday in the U.S.

“Exodus,” which carries a production cost of $140 million, is debuting at 3,503 locations.  The film debuted last weekend in 10 foreign markets including South Korea and Mexico, picking up $23.1 million; as of Wednesday, that number had surpassed $32 million as the film moves into another 38 markets.

The Ridley Scott production stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses. Early reviews have been mixed.

Paramount’s “Top Five,” starring Chris Rock as a comedian at a professional and personal crossroads, looks likely to take in about $2.7 million on Friday and finish the weekend at about $8 million. Reviews have been stellar for Rock, who has been actively promoting the picture, which he also wrote and  directed.

Lionsgate’s fourth weekend of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” will come in a distant second. The Jennifer Lawrence vehicle should take in $3.5 million on Friday, its 22nd day of release, and finish the weekend at about $11 million to $12 million.

That will leave “Mockingjay” with about $275 million — about $55 million short of the total for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the top U.S. grosser of the year.

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