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Box Office: ‘The Accountant’ to Dominate ‘Kevin Hart’ With $23 Million Weekend

Ben Affleck’s action-thriller “The Accountant” is heading for an easy victory this weekend in the $23 million range at 3,222 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday.

The opening of comedy concert film “Kevin Hart: What Now?” is in a battle for second place in the $10 million to $13 million range at 2,568 sites. And science-fiction adventure “Max Steel,” based on Mattel’s line of action figures, is launching dismally in the $2 million range at 2,034 locations.

The Accountant” appears to be over-performing recent forecasts, which pegged it in the $18 million to $20 million range. One early estimate gave it an opening day in the $9 million to $10 million range, which could push the Warner Bros. title past $25 million but the studio cautioned it’s likely to come in closer to $20 million.

The Accountant” took in $1.4 million in Thursday night previews, just above the figure for 2014’s thriller “Gone Girl,” which starred Rosamund Pike and Affleck and opened with a $37.5 million first weekend. It’s looking likely to finish in the range of “The Girl on the Train,” which opened last weekend with $24.5 million.

“The Accountant”  carries a moderate $40 million price tag and follows a small town certified public accountant who makes his living cooking the books for criminal organizations. Gavin O’Connor directs from a script by Bill Dubuque. Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow also star.

Warner Bros. is also opening “The Accountant” in 10 international markets this weekend.

Kevin Hart: What Now?” is a look at the sold-out final performance of his most recent comedy tour, filmed in August, 2015, at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field during the dress rehearsal and performance with Leslie Small and Tim Story directing.

The concert film is expected to take in around $13 million — a decent number, given its production cost of under $10 million. Hart’s a proven performer in this genre with 2013’s “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” having grossed $32 million domestically, making it the fourth-highest among live stand-up comedy films after “Eddie Murphy Raw,” “The Kings of Comedy” and “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip.”

Open Road is handling “Max Steel,” based on Mattel’s line of action figures and starring Ben Winchell of MTV’s “Finding Carter.” The film focuses on the teenage Max McGrath and alien companion Steel, who evolve into the superhero Max Steel. Audiences appear to be shunning the title, expected to draw between $400,000 and $650,000 on Friday — which will translate to an opening in $1.3 million to $2.2 million range.

Fox’s third frame of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” should finish fourth at around $8 million, giving the Tim Burton fantasy around $65 million.

The overall fall season has been a disappointment with “Sully” having emerged as the best performer with $115 million after five weeks. Major titles such as “Deepwater Horizon” and “Storks” have fallen short of expectations, leaving the fall season so far at its lowest level since 2011 with $702 million since the day after Labor Day, according to comScore.

The 2016 fall season is a hefty 13.3% down from the same period of 2015, which saw strong performances from “Hotel Transylvania” and Matt Damon’s “The Martian.” It’s down 17% from the 2014 fall season at the same point, with “Gone Girl” and “Annabelle” leading the way.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said that November and December will see several strong performers such as Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and Disney’s “Doctor Strange” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

“A slow moving fall season, with tough ongoing comparisons to last year’s solidly performing crop of films, continues to drone on with the industry holding its collective and hopeful breath for the next big breakout blockbuster,” he said. “That said, Ben Affleck and Kevin Hart will have nothing to complain about as both of their films will perform as expected and add to a marketplace chock full of options from every genre.  Though somewhat light on their ability to generate massive excitement among potential moviegoers, there are many potential hits on the way that could turn this ‘free-fall’ into a holiday season uplift.”

Year-to-date domestic grosses are 3.1% ahead at $8.82 billion.

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