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'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' and 'Lego Ninjago' will battle 'It' for box office victory

20th Century Fox’s profane spy flick “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Ninjago Movie” will try to push New Line Cinema’s Stephen King adaptation “It” from the top of the charts after two weekends of dominance.

Analysts expect “Kingsman” and “Ninjago” to each collect $35 million to $45 million from Friday through Sunday, providing another boost to what has been a strong September box office following the stellar run of “It.” The R-rated horror film, about a group of kids terrorized by an evil clown, kicked off the month with a $123-million opening, a record for a fall release. The movie, directed by Andy Muschietti, has collected $219 million in ticket sales from the U.S. and Canada, making it the highest-grossing September movie, not adjusting for inflation. The robust early fall numbers come as a relief to the movie industry after a dismal summer, during which the industry suffered the worst attendance in 25 years.

A ‘Kings’ ransom

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” the $104-million sequel to the 2015 hit “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is expected to gross $40 million to $45 million in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. That would be bigger than the opening of its predecessor, which had a $36-million opening.

The big-budget “Kingsman” series, based on a comic book about a secret organization of British superspies, is proving to be a solid franchise for Fox.

“The Secret Service” ended up with $414 million in worldwide receipts and was also a major hit on the home video market. The new film, in which the British agents team up with their lasso-wielding American counterparts to fight a common enemy, will benefit from that built-in fan base.

“The Golden Circle,” which is rated R, brought back Matthew Vaughn to direct and stars Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Colin Firth and Channing Tatum.

‘Lego’ ninja warrior

Courting a younger audience, Warner Bros. will release the latest film in its “Lego Movie” franchise, this time focusing on a crew of young ninjas under the tutelage of a wise master (Jackie Chan). “The Lego Ninjago Movie” is expected to gross $27 million to $32 million in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, likely coming in lower than the previous film, “The Lego Batman Movie.”

The new computer-animated feature represents the latest test for Warner Bros.’ strategy and capitalizing on the surprise success of its 2014 smash hit “The Lego Movie” by creating character-based spinoffs. The previous entry, “The Lego Batman Movie,” opened in February with $53 million in ticket sales, on its way to a strong $311 million in global grosses.

The original “Lego Movie,” directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, amassed $469 million worldwide after opening with $69 million, thanks to overwhelmingly positive reviews for its subversive and nostalgic interpretation of the classic toys. The spinoffs, while popular among family audiences, have not had as wide of an appeal. The first movie’s sequel, “The Lego Movie 2,” is expected to be released in 2019.

Meanwhile, Byron Allen’s distribution company Entertainment Studios will release its Facebook-themed supernatural horror movie “Friend Request,” about a female college student whose social media decisions turn out to have deadly consequences. The movie is expected to gross $5 million or less, facing heavy competition from other new movies and holdovers such as “It” and Lionsgate and CBS Films’ “American Assassin.”

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