Tom Cruise could seize the top spot at the box office this week when his "Jack Reacher" sequel hits U.S. theaters. But to do so, he'll have to beat a sinister board game and a cross-dressing Tyler Perry.
"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" will face off with "Ouija: Origin of Evil" and "Boo! A Madea Halloween," in what should be a crowded box-office weekend. Each film is expected to gross about $15 million to $20 million in ticket sales from the U.S. and Canada through Sunday, according to people who have reviewed prerelease audience-tracking surveys.
The new "Jack Reacher" appears to have a slight edge on the competition going into the weekend. The Paramount Pictures followup about a former Army man turned nomadic investigator could gross $20 million or more, according to analysts, though the studio says a $17-million-to-$19-million bow is more likely.
The 2012 original was a robust performer for Paramount. It opened with $15.2 million and eventually grossed $80 million domestically, though it did even better overseas with $138 million in box-office receipts. International sales will be a big focus for the new PG-13-rated movie, which cost $60 million to make and will be released in 40 foreign markets this weekend, including Britain, France and Brazil.
Meanwhile, Perry will again don his signature dress, wig and pearls for the $20-million production "Boo! A Madea Halloween," which should have a respectable showing ahead of the trick-or-treating holiday. Lionsgate is releasing the Madea series' latest feature, which took its inspiration and title from a joke in Chris Rock's critically acclaimed comedy "Top Five." In the 2014 picture, Rock's character is faced with the prospect of his more serious movie losing at the box office to a Halloween-themed film featuring the volatile matriarch.
Perry's Madea movies have been reliably profitable for Lionsgate, though the schtick has shown some signs of fatigue recently. The 2013 holiday offering "A Madea Christmas" collected $52 million after opening with a relatively soft $16 million. The studio is conservatively anticipating a debut of roughly $15 million for "Boo!"
Meanwhile, Universal Pictures is hoping to attract a scare-hungry crowd with "Ouija: Origin of Evil," a followup to 2014's surprise horror hit based on the Hasbro board that lets users communicate with the beyond. Produced by Jason Blum and Michael Bay and directed by indie horror maestro Mike Flanagan, "Origin of Evil" should open with $15 million or more. That would count as a success for a film that cost $9 million to make.
Whereas the original "Ouija" was a critically reviled present-day teen thriller, the sequel is set in 1967 Los Angeles and has earned some positive early reviews. The new picture follows a family that runs a scam seance business that turns all-too-real.
All the newcomers will have to contend with last weekend's victor, "The Accountant," Warner Bros.'s Ben Affleck movie about a math whiz who freelances for criminal organizations. The $40-million action-thriller topped the charts with a solid $24.7 million start and should drop about 50% this time around.
Also opening Friday is 20th Century Fox's action comedy "Keeping Up With the Joneses," starring Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher as a suburban couple who get wrapped up in a dangerous plot when their neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) turn out to be spies. The PG-13 movie is on track for a soft $7-million-to-$9-million bow.
Christian distributor Pure Flix will try to draw the faithful to the multiplex with "I'm Not Ashamed," based on the story of Rachel Joy Scott, who was killed at the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. It's likely to bring in $3 million or less from about 500 theaters through Sunday.
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