Box Office: ‘Fantastic Four’ Muscles in on ‘Mission: Impossible 5’

Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, Invisible Woman and the Human Torch are back, although the heroic quartet looks a lot different than they did when they took on the Silver Surfer eight years ago.

The Stan Lee and Jack Kirby characters are following in the footsteps of Spider-Man and the Hulk and getting a big screen reboot, intended to make the superhero team younger, fresher and hipper. Fox’s “Fantastic Four” should debut to roughly $45 million, a little shy of the $56.1 million that 2005’s “Fantastic Four” brought in during its opening. Fox says it will be happy with anything with a four in front of it.

Though a commercial success, the mid-aughts version was critically lambasted. In the talent department, this re-imagining appears to have the edge, bringing in a hot cast of up-and-coming actors like Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan, and matching them with Josh Trank, a young director who made a stir with the low-budget “Chronicle.” Trank gets a much bigger canvas this time. “Fantastic Four” carries a $120 million production budget and will hit 3,961 theaters.

It’s shaping up to be a fiercely competitive weekend at the multiplexes. Meryl Streep will try to rein in older moviegoers with “Ricki and the Flash,” a dramedy about an aging rock star that Sony will release in 1,600 locations. The film cost $18 million to produce, and should bring in $6 million in its initial weekend. The hope is that this is a film that will mirror “The Hundred Foot Journey” or Streep’s “Hope Springs,” starting modestly, but bringing in audiences over subsequent weeks. Interest is particularly high, because “Ricki and the Flash” is the first release from TriStar, the filmmaker-focused label, that Tom Rothman was tasked with reinvigorating before he took the top job at Sony last winter.

Then there’s “The Gift,” a creepy story of high school resentment from STX Entertainment. The newly launched studio is hoping to corner the market on mid-budget thrillers, comedies and dramas that others have abandoned in pursuit of comic book movies. “The Gift” was produced with Blumhouse Productions, the company behind “The Purge” and “Insidious,” and carries a $5 million budget. It should bring in between $6 million and $8 million when it unspools across 2,470 locations.

And finally Lionsgate will field “Shaun the Sheep,” a big screen version of the stop-motion animated television series from “Wallace and Gromit” creators Aardman Animations. The family film debuts on Wednesday and should pull in $10 million over its first five days and $6 million for the weekend. Reviewers love the picture, handing it a 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the major challenger for “Fantastic Four” comes in the form of last week’s champ, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” The espionage franchise has always exhibited impressive durability. They never open to massive numbers, but they play and play. The latest IMF adventure should be no exception, particularly given that critics and audiences seem to have embraced the film, with some media types even proclaiming it a series best. After opening to just shy of $56 million, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” could pull in $30 million in its sophomore weekend.

Despite all the new releases, the weekend box office will struggle to match the year-ago period when “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” debuted to $65.6 million and “Guardians of the Galaxy” made $42.1 million in its second week. A hot summer is cooling down.

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