The Warner Bros. film has been tracking to launch with around $21 million for the weekend as it expands to 3,323 locations. It should take the top spot in what’s expected to be an otherwise lackluster weekend at the U.S. box office.
The marketing for the R-rated “Focus,” which cost $50 million to produce, has focused on Smith’s trademark wit and charm. Margot Robbie, who debuted in “Wolf of Wall Street,” costars as a young con artist who’s been tutored by Smith’s veteran grifter character.
“Focus” is directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who teamed on 2012’s romcom “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” which grossed $142 million worldwide for Warner Bros.
The weekend’s other new release, Relativity’s “The Lazarus Effect,” has been tracking to open between $12 million and $14 million when it bows in 2,666 locations. The micro-budget horror film, produced by Blumhouse, stars Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde as researchers who figure out a way to bring the dead back to life.
For the first month and a half of 2015, U.S. ticket sales have been robust, thanks largely to “American Sniper” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” driving the box office up 10% over the previous year. That trend will stop this weekend, which will have difficulty matching the prior-year period when “Non-Stop,” “Son of God” and “The Lego Movie” all topped $20 million.
UPDATE, 8:13 a.m. — “The Lazarus Effect” grossed an estimated $350,000 from Thursday evening screenings starting at 8 p.m.