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'Ready Player One' faces its next box office test against 'Blockers' and 'A Quiet Place'

'Ready Player One' faces its next box office test against 'Blockers' and 'A Quiet Place'
John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz in "Blockers," the R-rated comedy that faces off with Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One" this weekend. (Quantrell D. Colbert / Universal Pictures)

Steven Spielberg’s virtual-reality adventure film “Ready Player One” won over crowds at the box office with dazzling effects and references to pop culture landmarks, including “The Iron Giant” and “Back to the Future,” that have stood the test of time.

This weekend, the new movie’s own staying power is about to face a major test as two major new foes — Universal Pictures’ R-rated comedy “Blockers” and Paramount Pictures’ dark thriller “A Quiet Place” — try to attract moviegoers.

Warner Bros. and co-financier Village Roadshow are hoping the video gamed-themed dystopia, set in 2045, continues to draw crowds after debuting with a solid $53 million over the four-day Easter holiday. The impressive debut is the latest sign that the acclaimed director behind “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” can still draw crowds with a fun, big-screen spectacle.

Based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” carries an estimated production budget of up to $175 million, meaning it still has a ways to go before it can be considered a financial success for the companies involved. International grosses will be key. The movie has collected $127.5 million outside the U.S. and Canada, for a global total of $181.3 million as of Monday.

Analysts say “Ready Player One” should get a boost from positive reviews from critics and audience members, as well as Spielberg’s blockbuster prestige. The movie will probably take in $22 million to $25 million in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, according to industry sources.

Will ‘Player’ get blocked?

Competing for position will be “Blockers,” a raunchy comedy about three parents who try to stop their daughters from losing their virginity on prom night.

The movie, which stars Leslie Mann and John Cena, marks the latest attempt by a studio to overcome the challenging market for adult-oriented comedies at the box office. With the exception of last year’s well-reviewed Universal hit “Girl’s Trip,” the genre has recently struggled to produce major hits.

Produced by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver, “Blockers” is expected to open with a respectable $15 million to $20 million domestically. It could get a push from positive reviews and a wave of fan support following its screening at South by Southwest. Directed by “Pitch Perfect” scribe Kay Cannon, it’s also a rare example of an R-rated comedy helmed by a woman.

Not so ‘Quiet,’ perhaps?

Similarly, Paramount is hoping stellar reviews and an enthusiastic SXSW reception will propel its PG-13 horror flick “A Quiet Place” to box office victory. Directed by John Krasinski of “The Office,” “A Quiet Place” follows a family of four who must stay silent to evade an onslaught of creatures that hunt by sound. As of this writing, the $17-million movie maintains a 100% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes with about 50 reviews counted.

The new picture, with a cast led by Kransinski and Emily Blunt, is expected to snatch $19 million to $25 million this weekend.

Other newcomers are not expected to do much business. Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios will release the controversial political thriller “Chappaquiddick,” about a 1969 accident involving Ted Kennedy that killed young political campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne. The John Curran-directed picture is expected to open with about $4 million.

“The Miracle Season,” an inspirational film starring Helen Hunt about a high school volleyball team that must overcome a tragedy, will likely collect about $3 million.

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