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'Good Dinosaur' and 'Creed' to battle 'Hunger Games' at holiday box office

'Good Dinosaur' and 'Creed' to battle 'Hunger Games' at holiday box office
Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" will square off with Warner Bros.' "Creed" and Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2" at the Thanksgiving weekend box office. (Disney; Warner Bros.; Lionsgate)
Animated dinosaurs and an up-and-coming boxer will fight “The Hunger Games” for box-office dominance over the Thanksgiving weekend, as Hollywood hopes for a busy five days of clashing heavyweights.

Pixar’s new computer-animated film “The Good Dinosaur” and the “Rocky” franchise spinoff “Creed” are both expected to have strong showings in their domestic debuts, according to audience tracking surveys.

The three-way battle for the U.S. box-office dollars should give theater owners more reason to cheer after big openings posted by the James Bond film “Spectre” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2.”

The movie business has been on wobbly ground in recent weeks as some blockbusters have debuted with weaker-than-expected ticket sales.

"Mockingjay -- Part 2" pulled in $102 million last weekend in its domestic opening. Though that’s a huge number, it’s about 15% less than what the first installment generated. “Spectre” opened $18 million lower than its 2012 predecessor, “Skyfall.” 

"If 'Good Dinosaur' and 'Creed' both overperform, people will definitely be talking about that," said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at the tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. "That's what Hollywood needs right now after the fall we've had."

Walt Disney Co.’s new Pixar offering could give the industry a boost as the long-awaited prehistoric family adventure aims for $60 million to $70 million in ticket sales from Wednesday through Sunday. That could be enough to prevent a repeat win by “Mockingjay -- Part 2” from Santa Monica studio Lionsgate.

Pixar is hoping for its second hit of the year, coming after June’s “Inside Out.” That film debuted to more than $90 million and has racked up a staggering $851 million worldwide. “The Good Dinosaur,” like other Pixar features, is said to have cost $175 million to $200 million.

“Dinosaur” has had a long road to theaters. It was originally expected to arrive in May 2014, but Pixar pushed back its release date a month after it removed the original director from the project. The company later named Peter Sohn to take the director’s chair.

“Creed,” co-financed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and New Line Cinema, should take in about $35 million over the five-day holiday frame, analysts said. The $37-million spinoff from the popular “Rocky” movie series could mark a star-making turn for Michael B. Jordan after the failure of this summer's “Fantastic Four.”

Warner Bros. is distributing the film, which is should benefit from strong reviews from critics and early awards chatter.

Jordan has earned raves for his performance as Adonis Creed, son of Rocky Balboa opponent Apollo Creed, who was played by Carl Weathers. Sylvester Stallone returns to the big screen in the role of Balboa. 

"Creed" is the first film in the MGM boxing franchise since 2006. “Rocky Balboa” debuted to a solid $12 million that December on its way to a domestic total of $70 million.

Fellow newcomer “Victor Frankenstein,” the latest take on the story of a scientist playing God, is expected to be less of a factor than the other major competitors. The 20th Century Fox movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy is expected to gross $10 million to $12 million.

In limited release, Eddie Redmayne stars in Focus Features’ “The Danish Girl,” which opens in four theaters on Friday. The film is based on the story of artist Lili Elbe, one of the first people to receive gender reassignment surgery.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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