‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ poised for soft box office opening as ‘Guardians’ rules

Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law star in Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” will try to pull an Excalibur-like miracle from a box office stone this weekend. The new Warner Bros. movie will face tough odds dethroning the current ruler of the multiplex: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

The latest hit from Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios is expected to easily hold its top perch on the domestic charts for the second week in a row, after providing a solid start to the summer movie season.

That leaves a potentially close battle for second place between Guy Ritchie's big-budget take on the Arthurian legend and 20th Century Fox’s Amy Schumer raunchy mother-daughter comedy “Snatched,” which opens in wide release on Friday. Both will attempt to shave off segments of the audience left in the wake of Marvel’s space-traveling outlaws.

Here’s what to expect at the multiplex:

Galactic box office

James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel aced its first box office test last weekend, defying sequel fatigue with $146 million in domestic ticket sales to score the second biggest opening of the year behind “Beauty and the Beast.” “Guardians” is the rare sequel that opened higher than its predecessor — by an impressive 55%.

Now Hollywood is waiting to see how much the movie will drop in its second go-around. Marvel sequels tend to decline about 60%, so “Guardians 2” may add $58 million to its haul Friday through Sunday. The first “Guardians” debuted with $94 million in its first three days and fell 55% in its second weekend.

“Guardians 2,” starring main players Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, plus newcomers Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone, is doing powerful business overseas as well. The movie, which cost $200 million to make, has amassed $285 million from foreign countries, including China, Britain and Germany. It’s a bright spot in what many observers predict will be a weak summer for Hollywood.

Return of the ‘King’?

Does the world want another movie based on the story of King Arthur? Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow hope so, after spending $175 million to produce Ritchie’s vision of medieval magic and sword fights. The film is expected to open with $25 million in the United States and Canada, a rough start for such an expensive movie, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys.

Ritchie has been a respected filmmaker since his 1998 debut “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” and turned Sherlock Holmes into a Hollywood action hero with Robert Downey Jr. But Charlie Hunnam, who plays Arthur, is unproven as a box office draw, and poor early reviews could turn the new film into the summer’s first major flop.

There’s a chance that the action-adventure will perform like last year’s “Legend of Tarzan,” which was no blockbuster but did better than most people expected. It opened with $38 million on its way to $127 million in the United States and Canada. And like “Tarzan,” “King Arthur” also could do better internationally as it opens in dozens of countries, including China, this week.

Will ‘Snatched’ steal ticket sales?

The summer movie season usually delivers at least one original raunchy comedy that scores box office gold (think last year’s “Bad Moms” and 2014’s “Neighbors”). Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox are hoping “Snatched” will break out at the multiplex.

Starring Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a traveling daughter and mother on an exotic vacation that goes horribly wrong, “Snatched” is poised for an opening of $15 million to $20 million, which would be lower than the $30 million bow for Schumer’s 2015 hit “Trainwreck.” Yet raunchy female-led comedies often do better than pre-release tracking suggests, and the film could appeal to moviegoers avoiding the superhero action.

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