A 355-foot-tall lizard is poised to crush box-office rivals this weekend as Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' "Godzilla" arrives in theaters.
The $160-million film could gross around $70 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada through Sunday, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys. That would mark a strong start for a potential franchise.
The PG-13-rated "Godzilla" should easily take the No. 1 spot on the domestic box-office charts, replacing the R-rated Seth Rogen and Zac Efron comedy "Neighbors," which debuted with a three-day total of $49 million last weekend and has cruised past $60 million so far.
As for more family-friendly fare, Walt Disney Pictures' PG-rated sports underdog drama "Million Dollar Arm" is likely to gross about $10 million in its U.S. debut, more of a double than a home run for the movie that cost $25 million to make.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston star in "Godzilla," the big-screen return of the rampaging radioactive reptile introduced in Ishiro Honda's 1954 Japanese classic. "Godzilla" is the second directing effort for Gareth Edwards, whose 2010 film "Monsters" cost just $500,000 to produce.
The feature should top director Roland Emmerich's poorly reviewed 1998 take on "Godzilla." That version opened to $44 million in ticket sales in its first three days in U.S. release and went on to swallow up $379 million worldwide.
"Godzilla" could also come close to the $72-million opening for the 1997 dinosaur sequel "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," which holds the record for the biggest creature-feature opening weekend, not adjusting for inflation.
In Disney's "Million Dollar Arm," Jon Hamm, of AMC's "Mad Men," plays struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein, who travels to India with hopes of finding a young cricket player to turn into a major league baseball pitcher. He finds two 18-year-old Indian boys played by Madhur Mittal from "Slumdog Millionaire" and Suraj Sharma from "Life of Pi."
Directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Tom McCarthy, the based-on-a-true-story sports tale's cast also includes Aasif Mandvi of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," along with Bill Paxton, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin.
Sports movies have a mixed track record with movie-goers. The Jackie Robinson biopic "42" opened with $27 million last year on its way to a $95-million domestic gross. However, Kevin Costner's recent "Draft Day" launched with just $9.7 million.
This year's "Godzilla" could benefit from generally positive reviews, having notched a score of roughly 80% "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday. It will face heavy competition when 20th Century Fox's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" hits cinemas on May 23.