The $50-million R-rated crime comedy is expected to push Universal's "Fifty Shades of Grey" from the top of the U.S. box-office charts. Going into the weekend, analysts projected a weekend take of up to $22 million for "Focus."
Fellow newcomer "The Lazarus Effect" launched with $350,000 from Thursday night screenings that started at 8 p.m. It is expected to pull in $12 million to $14 million over the weekend, analysts said.
The low-budget horror film was co-produced by Blumhouse, the company behind the "Purge" franchise, and Mosaic for just $5 million. Relativity Studios acquired it for $3.3 million.
Meanwhile, Oscar winner "Birdman" will expand to 1,000 theaters this weekend to capitalize on its best-picture win.
In limited release, Focus Features will roll out "Maps to the Stars," starring Julianne Moore and Robert Pattinson, in 50 theaters, while Roadside Attractions will distribute the drama "'71" and Radius-TWC will launch the action thriller "Everly."
Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder