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'SpongeBob' to soak up box office, push 'American Sniper' out of top spot

'SpongeBob' expected to soak up the box office with a possible $35-million debut

"The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" is expected to make a splash at the box office weekend, pushing three-week box office champion "American Sniper" out of its top spot.

The Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon film, based on the long-running television series, could open to about $35 million, according to people familiar with pre-release audience surveys. Clint Eastwood's war drama will likely fall to second, adding about $25 million to its whopping $255.6-million domestic haul.

Warner Bros.' "Jupiter Ascending" could debut to about $20 million. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures and Legendary's fantasy adventure "Seventh Son" is projected to make the least of the three newcomers with between $7 million to $10 million.  

According to Fandango, the nation’s largest online movie ticket company, "SpongeBob" is the most anticipated film of the weekend, with a score of 84.

The film, which cost $74 million to make, follows the popular underwater characters in live action as they come ashore. Antonio Banderas voices cranky pirate Burger Beard.

It has been a little over a decade since the original "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" hit theaters. The 2004 animated film debuted to $32 million and went on to gross about $85.4 million.

But nostalgia plays in the film's favor: About 98% of those surveyed by Fandango said they have watched the “SpongeBob SquarePants” animated series on Nickelodeon.

Releasing the film in February may also give it a boost at the box office. This time last year, Warner Bros. saw huge success with "The Lego Movie," which made a robust $69.1-million debut.

"American Sniper" will likely keep some momentum, thanks to awards buzz, strong critical reception and an A-plus grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore. 

Adapted from the Chris Kyle autobiography of the same name, the film follows the story of Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a Navy SEAL known as the most lethal sniper in American history.

Sci-fi film "Jupiter Ascending," which cost $179 million to make, will likely debut at third. Warner Bros. pushed back the film's release from July 18 to leave more time for post-production of the visual-effects-heavy film. 

The film follows Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a young woman born on Earth whose “genetic signature” marks her as a target for elimination by the Queen of the Universe. Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne also have featured roles. The group with the strongest interest in the film is men over the age of 25.

It is the latest film from writer-director duo Andy and Lana Wachowski, who are behind “Cloud Atlas" and the "Matrix" films.

"Seventh Son," which cost about $95 million to make, will likely lure in the same older male audience as "Jupiter Ascending." However, the fantasy adventure will not fare as well.

The film, based on the book series “The Last Apprentice” by Joseph Delaney, stars Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore. It has pulled in a hefty $82 million internationally, opening at No. 1 in 14 territories. 

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