Warner Bros.’ “American Sniper” will see its three-week reign at the U.S. box office end this weekend as Paramount’s “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” is pegged for a $35 million opening at over 3,600 locations.
“American Sniper” appears likely to battle for the No. 2 slot with another Warner Bros. entry, the Wachowskis’ sci-fier “Jupiter Ascending” — carrying an eyebrow-raising $175 million pricetag — launching in about 3,150 sites. Both titles should finish in the $21 million to $23 million range.
The weekend’s other opener, Universal-Legendary’s fantasy-actioner “Seventh Son,” is showing little traction with a projection of about $7 million-$10 million.
“Spongebob,” which carries a $74 million budget, opened internationally last weekend with $8 million in five markets and will expand to Brazil and Spain this weekend. The comedy, which combines animation with live action, is based on the Nickelodeon TV television series and directed by the show’s writer and executive producer Paul Tibbitt.
The film stars the regular TV cast of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence and Mr. Lawrence. It opens 11 years after “The Spongebob SquarePants Movie” grossed more than $130 million worldwide.
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Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak, predicted that the “SpongeBob” sequel will be able to attract families amid a market that’s seen only one significant entry aimed at children — the Weinstein Co.’s “Paddington,” which has topped $50 million in less than three weeks. “It’s been pretty slim offerings for families, and ‘Paddington’ has performed well, so the ‘SpongeBob’ movie should get a lot of support,” he added.
Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” has dominated U.S. moviegoing for the past three weeks, with box office surpassing $253 million on Tuesday. Last weekend’s decline was only 36%, signaling strong continued interest in the Iraq War drama — which now appears likely to eventually cross the $300 million mark.
“Sniper” has also been a bright spot for Warner Bros. following a strong performance by the “Hobbit” finale, but “Jupiter Ascending” should end that hot streak abruptly.
The film, co-financed by Village Roadshow and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, has received mixed reviews, with a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Mila Kunis stars as the titular Jupiter Jones, whose character cleans houses before a genetically engineered hunter (Channing Tatum) enlists her to travel to his planet to stop a tyrant, played by Eddie Redmayne.
“Jupiter Ascending” was pulled from its original release date last summer in order to give the Wachowskis more time to finish the extensive special effects. As with “Cloud Atlas” — which grossed $27 million domestically and $103 million internationally — “Jupiter Ascending” may see better grosses overseas with day-and-date launches this weekend.
For “Seventh Son,” the U.S. outlook appears dismal despite the star power of Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. It’s tracking best among young males — also the target demo for “Jupiter Ascending.”
Legendary’s budget for “Seventh Son” is $95 million. One positive is that it has already topped $80 million internationally, including $26 million in China — where China Film Group has invested in the film.
Warner Bros. originally planned to open “Seventh Son” on Feb. 15, 2013, then moved it back twice before Legendary moved the movie and its co-financing deal to Universal. Formerly known as “The Spook’s Apprentice,” “Seventh Son” is adapted from Joseph Delaney’s young adult series about a teen who’s the seventh son of a seventh son, and who learns about wizardry from a forbidding spook.