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'The Circle' likely no match for 'Fate' at the box office

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks star in "The Circle."

In what has become a predictable pattern this month, the latest “Fast and the Furious” movie is about to overshadow another star-studded, smaller film at the box-office.

Last weekend, Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale in “The Promise,” Katherine Heigl in “Unforgettable” and Brie Larson in “Free Fire” all got clobbered. This time, it’s Emma Watson’s and Tom Hanks’ turn to face the crashing cars and submarines of “The Fate of the Furious” with their literary adaptation “The Circle” as non-blockbusters struggle to get audience attention.

Here’s what to watch for until Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” wakes up the multiplex for the beginning of the summer movie season May 5:

Billion, with a ‘b’

Universal Pictures’ “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth film in the street-racer action series, is poised to hit the $1-billion mark at the global box office this week, making it the latest movie to reach that milestone after Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

It’s not as big of a hit in the U.S. and Canada as “Furious 7” was in 2015. The newest installment has raked in $163 million so far at home, compared with roughly $250 million its predecessor grossed at the same point in its run. But despite signs that the franchise is slowing down domestically, the “Fast and the Furious” brand has proved an explosive success overseas. “Fate,” directed by “Straight Outta Compton’s” F. Gary Gray, has grossed $908 million worldwide, more than 80% of which has come from outside the U.S. and Canada.

At home, it’s expected to add about $19 million to its total Friday through Sunday, plus millions more around the globe.

“Fate” has helped the domestic box office reach $3.59 billion so far, according to ComScore. That’s up 5% from the same time last year, though some of the gains are the result of rising ticket prices. The business should get another boost early next month when Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel launches with up to $150 million.

"The Fate of the Furious."
"The Fate of the Furious." (Universal Pictures)

‘The Circle’s’ future?

Watson is riding high on the success of live-action Disney fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” ($1.1 billion globally so far). But can her star power boost a movie adapted from a work of cerebral science fiction?

EuropaCorp and STX Entertainment’s “The Circle,” based on the 2013 Dave Eggers novel about a powerful Internet company, is expected to collect a moderate $10 million to $12 million Friday through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys.

“The Circle” puts a social media-age spin on dystopian nightmares like “1984” and “Brave New World,” in an effort to reach young adults with a heady thriller, though many in that age group may end up saving their money for the next Marvel adventure. EuropaCorp paid $8 million for the rights to the movie, which cost $18 million to make.

The only other film braving a true wide release Friday is “How to Be a Latin Lover,” a comedy starring Eugenio Derbez, best known for the 2013 Mexican hit “Instructions Not Included.” Derbez plays a man who falls on hard times after a career based on seducing older women. Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe and Kristen Bell also star in the movie released by Pantelion Films, the Latino-focused film joint venture of Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa.

Blumhouse’s specialty unit BH Tilt is releasing its crime drama “Sleight,” about a young black street magician, in 550 theaters in hopes of grossing $1.5 million to $2 million.

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder

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