Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Zootopia" is expected to hold the top spot at the U.S. box office this weekend, despite a herd of new movies including J.J Abrams' "Cloverfield" follow-up and the latest Sacha Baron Cohen comedy.
The well-reviewed computer-animated movie about an unlikely rabbit-and-fox duo is poised to gross $40 million to $50 million Friday through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, a solid follow-up to its stellar opening.
"Zootopia" took in $75 million in domestic receipts last weekend, the biggest debut ever for a Disney Animation movie, not adjusted for ticket price inflation. It's been a hit internationally as well, with $159 million from overseas so far, bringing its global total to $233 million.
As "Zootopia" continues to draw families to the multiplex, a pack of rivals will fight for second place. The best bet for second place is Paramount Pictures' low-budget mystery-thriller "10 Cloverfield Lane," which is on track for a strong debut of $22 million to $25 million, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
The studio is projecting a more conservative opening of less than $20 million, which would still be a solid start for a movie that cost around $15 million to make.
2008's "Cloverfield," a found-footage monster movie directed by Matt Reeves, was a box-office success that generated $170 million worldwide on a production budget of only $25 million.
Yet the filmmakers have stressed that "10 Cloverfield Lane," directed by newcomer Dan Trachtenberg, is not a straight-ahead sequel to the original hit. J.J. Abrams, who produced both movies, has called the new film a "spiritual successor" to the 2008 picture. "10 Cloverfield Lane" eschews the well-worn raw-footage style, and the trailers (the first of which was released only two months ago) take place largely in an underground bunker, rather than the streets of New York.
Meanwhile, "Borat" star Baron Cohen could be headed to a box-office misfire with his new movie "The Brothers Grimsby," which is not likely to stir up much business.
The British filmmaker's spy action-comedy is headed to an opening of less than $10 million, which would be considered a poor turnout for the Sony Pictures release and the weakest debut to date for a Baron Cohen-penned film.
The 2006 faux-documentary "Borat" opened to $26.5 million on its way to a powerful $128 million in the U.S. and Canada. The most recent Baron Cohen-written satire "The Dictator" (2012) did a less impressive $60 million in domestic ticket sales after scoring $17 million in its first three days.
Focus Features will take a crack at the faith-based genre with "The Young Messiah," about the early life of Jesus. But coming to theaters just after Sony's biblical epic "Risen," the new movie is not expected to do much business. Sony will add another Christian movie to the mix next weekend with the modern-day drama "Miracles From Heaven."
Lionsgate's Codeblack Films division, meanwhile, is debuting its new romantic comedy, "The Perfect Match," aimed at black moviegoers. The picture about a romantically challenged bachelor in an unexpected relationship stars Terrence Jenkins of "Think Like a Man" and Cassie Ventura. Queen Latifah executive produced the film, which is expected to debut to $5 million from a mid-range release in 900 theaters or more.