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Tom Cruise's 'The Mummy' faces tough box-office battle against 'Wonder Woman'

Tom Cruise's 'The Mummy' faces tough box-office battle against 'Wonder Woman'
Sofia Boutella in a scene from Universal's "The Mummy," which stars Tom Cruise. (Universal Pictures)

When it was released in 1999, Universal Pictures’ “The Mummy,” starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, became an early summer crowd-pleaser with its deft mix of action and comedy, grossing more than $155 million domestically and spawning two sequels. The blockbuster was part of the studio’s long tradition of making monster-themed movies, dating back to the original “Dracula” and “Frankenstein,” as well as 1932’s “The Mummy,” starring Boris Karloff in the title role.

On Friday, Universal once again resurrects the undead franchise with a new cast, led by Tom Cruise and newcomer Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet, an ancient princess who comes back to life to wreak havoc on modern civilization.

“The Mummy” faces an uphill battle against Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman,” which debuted last week at No. 1 with $103.3 million in ticket sales and is expected to retain the top spot at the box office in the U.S. and Canada.

But the title to watch for the weekend could be “It Comes at Night,” a horror-suspense movie released by indie distributor A24 and directed by Trey Edward Shults, who had a breakout last year with the micro-budgeted drama “Krisha.” His new movie has generated strong reviews and word of mouth since it debuted this year at the horror-themed Overlook Film Festival.

Could “It Comes at Night” become one of the summer’s sleeper success stories? Here’s what to expect at the multiplex this weekend.

Said Taghmadui, left, as Sameer, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Eugene Braverock as the Chief and Ewen Bremner as Charlie in "Wonder Woman."
Said Taghmadui, left, as Sameer, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Eugene Braverock as the Chief and Ewen Bremner as Charlie in "Wonder Woman." (Clay Enos / Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Gal-power at the box office

“Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot as the lasso-wielding action heroine, is on the way to becoming one of the summer’s biggest hits. The big-screen adaptation of the long-running DC Comics series has helped Warner Bros. rebound from the disappointing results of “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which cost an estimated $175 million to make and has so far grossed $37.2 million domestically since opening last month.

For its second weekend in release, “Wonder Woman” is expected to come in at No. 1 again, with a 50% drop in business to gross about $50 million, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. The movie, which cost close to $150 million to make, has also opened in multiple countries overseas, so far bringing in an additional $125 million in ticket sales.

“The Mummy” is expected to open at No. 2 at the domestic box office with receipts between $35 million and $40 million. The PG-13 movie’s performance is likely to be respectable, but disappointing because it cost an estimated $125 million to make. Cruise’s star power remains strong overseas and Universal will be looking to foreign box office for any hope of profitability.

Universal has had a strong year so far with hits including “The Fate of the Furious,” “Get Out” and “Split.”

“The Mummy Returns,” which was released in 2001, grossed $202 million domestically, while “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” brought in $102.5 million when it opened seven years later.

Christopher Abbott and Joel Edgerton in a scene from "It Comes at Night."
Christopher Abbott and Joel Edgerton in a scene from "It Comes at Night." (Eric McNatt / A24)

Not your average horror movie

A24 will open “It Comes at Night” in about 2,500 theaters, one of the largest releases for the New York-based indie distributor, whose most recent hit is the Oscar-winning “Moonlight.”

“It Comes at Night” could break the top five at the box office, with grosses expected to be at least $6 million to $7 million. One person who has reviewed user survey data said the movie could gross as much as $12 million for the weekend.

The movie, starring Joel Edgerton, cost less than $5 million to make.

The horror movie takes a subtler, more artistic approach to the genre than other recent R-rated fright-fests. A24 is looking to repeat the financial success of last year’s “The Witch,” another artsy horror movie that grossed more than $25 million domestically.

“It Comes at Night” was produced by Animal Kingdom, the production company behind the supernatural thriller “It Follows,” which grossed more than $14 million when the Weinstein Co. released it two years ago.

The week’s other major opening is “Megan Leavey,” released by Bleecker Street Media. Based on the true story of a Marine corporal (Kate Mara) and her combat dog, the movie is only expected to take in $2 million to $3 million on its opening weekend.

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david.ng@latimes.com

@DavidNgLAT

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