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Box Office: Can ‘Kingsman’ or ‘Lego Ninjago’ Knock ‘It’ From Top Spot?

This is, without a doubt, an unusually strong September at the box office.

The thanks go mostly to “It,” which charged out of the starting gate for Warner Bros. and New Line as a record-breaking hit two weekends ago with $123 million domestic. Last weekend it easily stayed on top of the North American charts with $60 million. But now, Pennywise the clown has tough competition from two new releases — Fox’s “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and “The Lego Ninjago Movie” from Warner Bros.

The sequel to “Kingsman: The Secret Service” looks like the leader of the pack. It’s tracking with a wide-ish margin in the $40 millions from more than 4,000 locations. That would be an improvement on the original, which had a domestic opening of $36.2 million. Foreign grosses boosted the first “Kingsman” to become a global hit, and it finished its run with $414.4 million worldwide. So B.O. observers should look abroad for the second go-around as well.

The film franchise is based on the “Kingsman” comic book series, and features a starry cast. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, and Taron Egerton topline the action comedy and are joined by supporting characters played by Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, and perhaps most notably, Elton John. The movie reunites the group of secret agents who use a tailor shop as a cover. This time around they travel to the United States where they team with their American counterpart (called Statesman) who pose as cowboy whiskey distillers.

Another strong entry, the latest installment in the Lego cinematic universe, “Ninjago,” is also targeting a wide margin somewhere in the $30 millions from 4,000 theaters. The franchise has historically posted impressive figures for Warner Bros. The first “Lego Movie” opened to $69.1 million in February of 2014. And “The Lego Batman Movie” opened earlier this year to $53 million, ending its run as the highest grossing movie of the winter with $175.8 million.

Billed as an animated action comedy martial arts film, three directors are at the helm for this one — Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan. The voice cast is comprised of Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Pena, Zach Woods, and Jackie Chan.

Finally, there’s also the horror entry “Friend Request,” from Entertainment Studios. According to tracking, it’s a bit of a bust, targeting between $2 million and $5 million. The distributor, however optimistically believes it should pull in between $8 million and $10 million from 2,550 locations. The project has a budget of just under $10 million.

Earlier this summer, Byron Allen’s company released shark attack movie “47 Meters Down,” which opened to $11 million, earned a total of $44 million domestic since, and is getting a sequel. Time will tell if the same story applies to “Friend Request.” The R-rated horror film directed by Simon Verhoeven is also competing with other adult holdovers including “It,” “Mother!,” and “American Assassin.”

Several enticing limited releases are also hitting theaters. Fox Searchlight is serving “Battle of the Sexes,” the Billie Jean King biopic starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell at about 20 locations. “Stronger,” from Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is entering 577 theaters. “Victoria and Abdul,” from Focus Features, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench is entering the mix at four locations. And A24 is releasing “Woodshock,” the directorial debut of sisters and acclaimed designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy, starring Kirsten Dunst.

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