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Kevin Hart’s ‘The Upside’ Challenging ‘Aquaman’ at Weekend Box Office

Kevin Hart-Bryan Cranston’s “The Upside” is showing surprising strength in its opening weekend by narrowly topping “Aquaman” for the No. 1 spot at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday.

STX’s “The Upside” is launching with as much $7 million on Friday, including $1.1 million from previews, and could wind up the weekend with as much as $20 million, according to revised forecasts. If those projections hold, “The Upside” would dethrone “Aquaman,” which was pegged Friday to finish the weekend in the $15 million to $18 million range.

Family adventure “A Dog’s Way Home” is performing in line with expectations and heading for $10 million to $11 million for Sony. Entertainment Studios’ Keanu Reeves sci-fier “Replicas” isn’t showing much traction with a $3 million weekend projected amid dismal reviews.

Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” had been expected to win its fourth consecutive weekend easily, given that “The Upside” was pegged to finish in the $10 million range. The Jason Momoa starrer has dominated at multiplexes and should pass $1 billion in worldwide grosses over the weekend, with more than $285 million domestically by the end of business on Sunday.

Holiday holdovers “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and the second weekend of “Escape Room” will be battling for fourth in the $7 million range. Focus Features’ expansion of “On the Basis of Sex,” starring Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is aiming at about $6 million at 1,923 sites.

“The Upside,” based on the French hit “Les Intouchables,” stars Cranston as a quadriplegic billionaire who befriends a recently paroled convict (played by Hart) who’s hired to help him. It’s playing at 3,080 locations with reviews mostly unenthusiastic, leading to a 36% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Upside” is coming into the market more than a year after it debuted at 2017’s Toronto International Film Festival with the Weinstein Company on board to distribute. The project was then shelved following Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations. STX bought the rights last August and is partnered with Lantern to distribute worldwide.

“A Dog’s Way Home,” which is playing at 3,090 sites, stars a brown rescue dog named Shelby (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) who travels 400 miles to re-connect with her owner after getting separated. Ashley Judd and Edward James Olmos star in the PG adventure, based on a book by W. Bruce Cameron. Critics have supported “A Dog’s Way Home” with a 69% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Replicas,” a thriller about a neuroscientist who tampers with law and science to bring back his family members after they die in a car crash, had been projected to bring in $4 million to $7 million when it launches on 2,327 screens.

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