3-D ‘Clash of the Titans’ to dominate the box office

Miley Cyrus and Tyler Perry will try to crash the box office this weekend, but they should be no match for a hero of Greek mythology.

Director Louis Leterrier’s remake of “Clash of the Titans,” which stars “Avatar’s” Sam Worthington as the Greek mythological hero Perseus, is expected to dominate the box office this weekend, with observers forecasting a take between $60 million and $70 million. A “Titans” opening approaching the premiere of 2007’s “300,” which grossed $70.9 million in its first weekend, is not impossible.

Warner Bros.’ and Legendary Pictures’ new action-adventure movie, a $122-million remake of the 1981 film, will go up against Cyrus’ tear-jerker “The Last Song” as well as Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married Too?,” the follow-up to his 2007 Janet Jackson relationship comedy that grossed $55.2 million during its run in the U.S. and Canada.

“Titans,” whose release was pushed back a week as the film was converted to 3-D from 2-D, should benefit from the stereoscopic format and the higher ticket prices (as much as $5 more) that theaters charge for 3-D admissions.

The film is tracking strongest among older men, but it’s also showing surprisingly strong traction among younger women.

Meanwhile, Cyrus makes her debut as a lead character in Disney’s drama “Last Song,” which will attempt to continue a mini-hot streak for films based on Nicholas Sparks novels. The romantic drama “Dear John,” also based on a book by the bestselling author, opened in February to a solid $30.5 million and has grossed nearly $89 million domestically.

“Last Song” grossed $5.1 million as Disney rolled it out Wednesday night, the studio said, with a projected opening in the low $20-million range.

With an estimated premiere in the high $20-million range, Perry’s new ensemble comedy from Lionsgate is expected to top the $21.4-million opening of “Why Did I Get Married?” But it probably will fall short of Perry’s career-best opening, the $41 million that “Madea Goes to Jail” collected in its February 2009 premiere weekend.

Lionsgate is opening the film on Easter weekend with an eye toward capturing a multi-generational African American audience. “Easter time is a great time for Tyler Perry. Families are together during Easter, and it becomes an event: You go to church, then you go see the movie,” said Lionsgate production president Michael Paseornek.

He added that while critics used to dismiss Perry’s movies, they now understand and appreciate his appeal. “I absolutely think they are being kinder to Tyler,” Paseornek said. What’s more, he said, Perry has a slice of the moviegoing public all to himself. “He appeals to an audience that almost no one else is after.”

One key question at the box office this weekend hinges on DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” the 3-D adventure tale that opened at the low end of expectations last weekend with $43.3 million.

But the picture drew extremely strong reviews and received an A grade on CinemaScore, giving some experts confidence that word of mouth could draw audiences, and that ticket sales could drop as little as 40% in “Dragon’s” second weekend out.

With “Clash of the Titans” grabbing as many as 1,800 3-D screens, though, “Dragon” (like “Alice in Wonderland”) may not be able to keep the best 3-D auditoriums for long.