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'Happy Death Day' expected to unseat 'Blade Runner 2049' at the box office

The new Blumhouse movie “Happy Death Day,” a bloody take on the classic “Groundhog Day” concept, is about to give the movie business a sense of déjà vu by becoming the latest horror film to top the domestic box office in its opening weekend.

“Happy Death Day” is expected to gross a solid $15 million to $20 million Friday through Sunday, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys, probably unseating last week’s winner “Blade Runner 2049,” which took in disappointing receipts.

The new slasher movie, made on a $5-million budget, is about a woman who relives the day of her murder until she learns her killer’s identity. It is the latest low-budget horror film from producer Jason Blum and Universal Pictures, which also released scary successes “Split” and “Get Out” this year.

Horror has been a major bright spot at the box office this year. New Line Cinema’s “It” has become a box-office phenomenon, grossing more than $300 million in North America since its Sept. 8 release.

Blade bummer

Alcon Entertainment’s long-awaited sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic “Blade Runner” will probably come in second place this weekend, grossing about $15 million in the U.S. and Canada. That would be a roughly 50% drop from its underwhelming opening, which totaled $32.7 million domestically. The movie also collected about $49 million overseas.

The film, co-financed by Sony Pictures and released domestically by Warner Bros., cost $150 million to make after rebates and was a huge gamble for small production company Alcon. But despite stellar reviews, it failed to appeal to younger audiences and women, which hampered its debut grosses.

Jackie Chan returns

That leaves STX Entertainment’s new Jackie Chan-Pierce Brosnan action film “The Foreigner” to settle for third place, with a projected $10 million to $14 million in the U.S. and Canada.

The $35-million Chinese co-production, about a London businessman out for revenge after his daughter is killed by terrorists, has already grossed $75 million in receipts in other countries including China. It’s the latest attempt to create a co-production with China that has global appeal.

“The Foreigner” is the latest movie from STX, the start-up Burbank studio that is planning to hold an initial public offering in Hong Kong next year, according to people familiar with the matter, though it has produced few hit films. STX produced the movie with China’s Sparkle Roll Media and Wanda Media Co., part of the struggling Beijing-based conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group.

Open Road Films is releasing the Chadwick Boseman historical drama “Marshall,” based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The $12-million movie will run in 821 theaters this weekend and is expected to gross $3 million to $4 million. Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, meanwhile, will release its drama “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” about the American psychologist who created the Wonder Woman character.

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