'Black Panther' to reign at box office for a third weekend, topping 'Red Sparrow'

Jennifer Lawrence stars in "Red Sparrow."

A Russian-accented Jennifer Lawrence and an armed vigilante Bruce Willis won’t have the firepower to usurp the box office throne from King T’Challa this weekend.

“Black Panther,” the latest Marvel Studios blockbuster from Walt Disney Co., is expected to take the No. 1 position at the domestic box office for the third weekend in a row, collecting about $60 million Friday through Sunday, according to analysts.

That will be enough to easily fend off two R-rated newcomers hitting theaters this weekend: 20th Century Fox’s spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” starring Lawrence, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s reboot of the “Death Wish” franchise, featuring Willis in the lead.

Wakanda forever

“Black Panther” is a juggernaut at the box office, grossing $422 million in the U.S. and Canada since it debuted in theaters Feb. 16. Domestically, the Ryan Coogler-directed film is already the third-highest grossing Marvel Studios movie ever, behind the two “Avengers” films.

With a predominantly black cast, the comic book movie has given a much-needed boost to the box office after cinema attendance fell 6% in 2017 to a 22-year low. It’s early yet, but 2018 ticket revenue has reached $1.9 billion so far, up 13% from the same period last year, according to the data firm comScore.

Internationally, “Black Panther” has collected $326 million, for a global total of $748 million, according to studio estimates. That puts the $200-million film well on its way to crossing the $1-billion threshold as the movie is poised to open in key markets, including Japan and China, this month.

Violent femme

“Red Sparrow,” an action-drama starring Lawrence as a former ballerina who joins a brutal intelligence service, is expected to gross $15 million to $19 million in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, according to people who have reviewed prerelease audience surveys.

The $69-million film, in which Lawrence’s character is trained in the arts of seduction and sexual manipulation, had been pegged to open with up to $24 million, but it remains to be seen if the film can reach those heights as “Black Panther” continues to dominate multiplexes.

The Fox film, produced by Chernin Entertainment, is the latest effort from director Francis Lawrence, who previously directed Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) in the “Hunger Games” series. “Red Sparrow” represents another risky choice for the popular actress, who most recently starred in the divisive Darren Aronofsky picture “Mother.”

MGM’s revenge

“Death Wish,” a modern take on the 1974 Charles Bronson crime thriller, is expected to open with about $15 million domestically. In the Eli Roth-directed film, which cost about $30 million to produce, Willis plays a man who seeks vigilante justice after his wife and daughter are attacked in a home invasion.

“Death Wish” is the first movie distributed by MGM since the storied studio’s 2010 bankruptcy reorganization. MGM announced in October that it would form a joint venture with Megan Ellison’s studio Annapurna Pictures to get back into the business of releasing its own films theatrically. Distributor Entertainment One is releasing “Death Wish” in Canada.

Some moviegoers are expected to play last-minute catch-up with the Oscars’ best picture nominees ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast. Among the top-prize nominees still in a significant number of theaters, Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” has grossed the most domestically ($79 million), followed by Fox Searchlight’s “The Shape of Water” ($55 million), Focus Features’ “Darkest Hour” ($54 million) and Searchlight’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” ($50 million).

Warner Bros.’s “Dunkirk” and Universal Pictures’ “Get Out” were the highest grossing best picture nominees, with $188 million and $176 million, respectively, but those films were released much earlier in 2017.

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3:17 p.m.: This article was updated to clarify the relationship between MGM and Annapurna Pictures.

This article was originally published at 1:25 p.m.