‘Hellboy’ Battles ‘Shazam!’ at Weekend Box Office

It’s about to get crowded at multiplexes.

That’s because four movies — Lionsgate’s “Hellboy” remake, Universal’s comedy “Little,” Laika’s stop-motion animation “Missing Link” and Aviron’s romantic drama “After” — are all opening nationwide. The quartet of films joins an already packed box office marquee that includes last week’s champ “Shazam!” and Paramount’s horror pic “Pet Sematary.”

Unless one of this weekend’s newcomers becomes a surprise hit, it’s likely that “Shazam!” will repeat No. 1 in North America. The comic-book tentpole debuted with $53 million, along with $102 million overseas. As of Wednesday, it has earned $162 million worldwide, including $59 million at the domestic box office. If “Shazam!” sees holdover similar to other recent superhero origin stories like “Ant-Man,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Captain Marvel,” it could add another $24 to $28 million in its second weekend of release.

Hellboy,” the reboot that sees “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour take on the role of the red-skinned superhero, looks to have the best start among new releases. The R-rated fantasy film based on Mike Mignola’s graphic novels is expected to earn $16 million to $20 million when it launches on 3,303 screens. Directed by Neil Marshall, “Hellboy” follows the half-demon superhero caught between the supernatural and human world. The cast also includes Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, and Daniel Dae Kim. This iteration is the third live-action and first R-rated “Hellboy” movie. Guillermo del Toro directed 2004’s “Hellboy” and 2008’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” both of which starred Ron Perlman.

Universal Pictures is targeting a younger female audience with “Little,” a body-swap comedy about a tech mogul (Regina Hall) who transforms back into the 13-year-old version of herself (Marsai Martin) just before a major work presentation. The movie is anticipating a start around $14 million and $18 million when it launches in 2,600 theaters. “Little,” also starring Issa Rae, cost $20 million to produce. Tina Gordon directed the PG-13 comedy, which was produced by Will Packer, known for his work on “Girls Trip,” “Night School” and the “Ride Along” franchise. Martin, who came up with the premise of the movie, serves as the youngest executive producer of all time.

On the family front, “Missing Link” should generate between $8 million and $12 million from 3,500 venues. The latest stop-motion animated adventure from Laika, the studio behind “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” follows a myths and monsters investigator who sets off to prove the existence of a mythical creature called Mr. Link. Directed by Chris Butler, the voice cast of “Missing Link” includes Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Emma Thompson.

This weekend’s final release, “After,” should generate single digits. Tracking for the YA romantic drama that centers on a college student who begins a relationship with the school’s resident bad boy suggests a wide range between $3 million and $12 million.

On the specialty front, IFC Films is releasing the biblical drama “Mary Magdalene” on 50 screens. It stars Rooney Mara as the divine figure who begins to follow Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix).

Elsewhere, Bleecker Street’s “Teen Spirit” will drop on four screens. Elle Fanning leads the musical drama as a shy teenager who has dreams of leaving her small town to become a pop star.  “Teen Spirit” is the directorial debut of Max Minghella, the actor best known for his work on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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