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Box Office: ‘Suicide Squad’ to Easily Keep Top Spot Over ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ ‘Sausage Party’

Warner Bros.’ second weekend of “Suicide Squad” will hold off a trio of distinctly different newcomers at the U.S. box office — Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon,” Sony’s animated “Sausage Party” and Paramount’s “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Forecasts place “Suicide Squad” in the $45 million to $48 million range for its second frame, amounting to a 65% decline from its opening weekend of $133.7 million. That smashed the August record and was at the top end of projections after the tentpole had been blistered by mostly negative reviews.

The key question is whether “Suicide Squad” will decline even more — such as the 69% plunge that hit Warner’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” in its second weekend after a $166 million opening.

The DC supervillain mashup, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, took in $13.1 million on Monday, compared to $15.1 million in its first Monday for “Batman v Superman.” It generated a B+ CinemaScore overall with audiences under the age of 18 giving it an A rating, but it dropped sharply on Saturday, falling 41% from its Friday numbers.

Warner Bros. has a lot riding on “Suicide Squad,” given its $175 million budget and its need to generate excitement for its stable of DC heroes in the same way that Marvel has managed for its movies about costumed avengers.

By contrast to “Suicide Squad,” the new arrivals have generated strong early support among critics with “Sausage Party” at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, followed by “Florence Foster Jenkins” with 91% and “Pete’s Dragon” at 84%.

Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” appears to have the best shot among the openers as it taps into the family audience that made “The Secret Life of Pets” a massive hit. The remake of the 1977 film about the friendship between a boy and his beloved dragon Elliot will open in 3,702 theaters, including 2,884 3D locations.

Disney’s expecting an opening weekend in the $25 million range. “Pete’s Dragon,” starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Oakes Fegley, carries a moderate $65 million budget and opens day-and-date in approximately 30% of the international market, including the U.K., Italy and Russia. It will debut next week in France and Spain followed by debuts in Australia, Mexico, Brazil and Korea throughout September and Japan in December.

“Sausage Party” should finish third with about $15 million at over 3,000 locations. Sony has given the R-rated “Sausage Party” plenty of marketing since it debuted at South by Southwest in March, including a red band trailer which has generated 182 million views and a screening last month at Comic-Con.

There are few comparable animated titles for “Sausage Party,” which has a bargain budget of $19 million with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna producing. “Team America: World Police” opened with $12 million in 2004 and Rogen’s R-rated “Paul” opened with $13 million in 2011.

Rogen’s last Sony movie, “The Night Before,”opened with $9.8 million and finished with $43 million.

The story is simple — one sausage leads a group of supermarket products on a quest to discover the truth about their existence and what really happens when they become chosen to leave the grocery store. Rogen wrote the script with Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and Evan Goldberg based on a story by Rogen, Goldberg and Jonah Hill.

Voice talent includes Rogen, Michael Cera, James Franco, Salma Hayek, Hill, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Danny McBride, Edward Norton, Paul Rudd and Kristen Wiig.

Paramount is giving “Florence Foster Jenkins” a more modest launch in about 1,500 locations with early forecasts in the $8 million range, with older adults as the targeted audience. Meryl Streep stars as the New York heiress who became a well-known opera singer during the ’30s despite — or perhaps because of — her lack of musical talent.

Speculation has already emerged that “Florence Foster Jenkins” will land Streep her 20th Oscar nomination.

Paramount acquired U.S. distribution rights to the $29 million film last fall. “Florence Foster Jenkins” has already taken in $4.2 million in the U.K. and another $2.7 million in Australia.

The summer to date is about 1.1% ahead of last summer at $3.65 billion — though still far behind the 2013 record of $3.92 billion at the same point, according to comScore.

“All eyes will be on the rag tag crew of ‘Suicide Squad’ in its sophomore frame that should easily lead a weekend loaded with holdover content and a trio of very different newcomers that offer a truly interesting mix of options for moviegoers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “The old cliche ‘there’s something for everybody’ most certainly applies to the offerings at the multiplex in the home stretch of the summer.”

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