‘Anchorman 2’ to challenge reign of ‘Smaug’ at the box office

Paramount Pictures’ “Anchorman” sequel is on its way to a solid opening. “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” is poised to gross around $45 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada over the five-day period ending Sunday, after taking in more than $8.1 million from showings on Wednesday.

Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the movie is expected to generate $30 million to $35 million, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys, and could unseat the defending box-office champion, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which opened last weekend with a $73.6-million haul.

In “Anchorman 2,” Will Ferrell reprises his role as the goofy television newsman from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” which came out in the summer of 2004. The comedy had a $28.4-million opening weekend and went on to gross $85.3 million domestically.


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A $30-million kickoff for “Anchorman 2,” which cost $50 million to make, would be about in line with the original, which has reached cult status since its introduction to audiences.

The film’s release follows a scorched-earth marketing campaign in which Ferrell anchored a real North Dakota news broadcast, teamed with Ben & Jerry’s for a new ice cream flavor and pitched Dodge Durango trucks in character.

Directed by Adam McKay, the sequel also stars “Anchorman” veterans Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner, and adds James Marsden as the main nemesis, as Burgundy’s news team moves from San Diego to a news network in New York. It has received generally positive reviews and a grade of “B” from CinemaScore, which polls moviegoers about films they’ve seen.

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“American Hustle,” the critical favorite from Sony Pictures, is expanding to theaters across the country on Friday after a strong start in limited release. It is expected to generate around $18 million in ticket sales through Sunday.

The 1970s-era con artist drama, starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, is a top contender for accolades, with seven Golden Globe Awards nominations, including one for best picture (musical or comedy). It was directed by David O. Russell and cost $40 million.

With overwhelmingly positive response from reviewers -- it has a 94% “fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes -- the movie should perform well through the awards season.

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Also going wide is the $35-million Walt Disney Pictures movie “Saving Mr. Banks,” with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers. It could come in slightly below “American Hustle” at about $15 million. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 80%.

20th Century Fox is debuting its prehistoric 3-D animated family adventure “Walking with Dinosaurs” and will likely pull in $10 million to $13 million. The movie cost $80 million, financed by IM Global, Reliance Entertainment and Fox.

“Her,” the Spike Jonze film about a writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), is now in limited release, playing in six theaters. It opened Wednesday.


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