Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is far and away the box office champ for Academy Awards weekend with an estimated debut of $58 million from 4,259 North American locations.
Three holdovers and an expansion will make up the other top four spots, with the sophomore frame of sci-fier “Alita: Battle Angel” on its way to second and the third frame of “Lego Movie 2” headed for No. 3.
Meanwhile, Universal Artists Releasing’s expansion of WWE comedy “Fighting With My Family” will vie with “Isn’t It Romantic’s” second weekend for No. 5, with each estimated to earn around $7 million.
“How to Train Your Dragon 3” sees the return of Jay Baruchel as Hiccup and America Ferrera as Astrid. Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kit Harington, F. Murray Abraham and Kristen Wiig also voice characters in the three-quel. Dean DeBlois returned to write and direct the pic, which has landed an A CinemaScore and 91% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
If estimates hold, its debut will mark the biggest for a “How to Train Your Dragon” pic, with 2010’s series originator drawing $43 million and 2014’s follow-up nabbing $49 million. The original went on to gross over $200 million domestically, while the sequel totaled $177 million. Their international fates were reversed, with “How to Train Your Dragon 2” tallying a massive $444 million to “How to Train Your Dragon’s” $277 million.
Fox’s manga adaptation, “Alita,” is heading for about $11.5 million this weekend for a $60 million domestic cume. The Robert Rodriguez film has earned $103 million overseas for a global total of $155 million in its first nine days. This weekend will bring “Alita” closer to the black — the cyberpunk action film had a pricey production budget of $170 million.
“Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” should pick up about $9 million in its third frame for a domestic total of about $84 million. The Warner Bros. movie has grossed $117 million globally in 15 days of release.
Stephen Merchant’s “Fighting With My Family” expanded to 2,711 theaters this weekend and is looking at a $7 million haul after picking up $2.5 million on Friday. United Artists Releasing is handling U.S. distribution on the comedy while Lionsgate oversees international.
The film follows Florence Pugh as Saraya “Paige” Bevis and charts the real-life professional wrestler’s journey from growing up in a house of professional wrestlers to winning the WWE Divas Championship in 2014. Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, and Dwayne Johnson also star. Merchant adapted the script from “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family.”
“Isn’t It Romantic,” Rebel Wilson’s rom-com that will battle for fourth this weekend, also stars Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra, and Adam Devine. It debuted at No. 3 last weekend with $14.2 million.
Also debuting at 853 locations this weekend is Roadside Attractions’ Christian drama “Run the Race,” directed by Chris Dowling and executive produced by former NFL star and current MBA outfielder Tim Tebow. Fox’s “Total Dhamaal” will also hit 202 theaters for an estimated $835,000. Indra Kumar directed and produced the Hindi-language adventure comedy, the third installment in the “Dhamaal” series.