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'Ralph Breaks the Internet' and 'Creed' head for big box office debuts as Netflix's 'Roma' begins limited run

'Ralph Breaks the Internet' and 'Creed' head for big box office debuts as Netflix's 'Roma' begins limited run
Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Ralph Breaks the Internet" is expected to win the box office this weekend. (Disney)

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is on track to beat Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios’ “Creed II” for the box-office championship belt, in a brawl of Hollywood sequels that should liven up the multiplex over Thanksgiving weekend.

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Analysts this week predicted “Ralph,” which cost at least $175 million to produce, would gross $65 million to $75 million in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday, marking a powerful debut for the follow-up to 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph.” But early studio estimates Wednesday suggest the film could exceed those projections by collecting more than $80 million. The “Creed” sequel, starring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, is poised for a robust opening of roughly $55 million.

The franchise battle comes after Warner Bros.’ $200-million J.K. Rowling film “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” posted a soft $62 million domestic launch, marking a low for the Wizarding World. However, the “Harry Potter” spinoff made up ground overseas, with $191 million in international ticket sales.

Here’s what to watch:

Knockout punch?

“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” in which the best pal arcade game characters Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) take a Wifi-enabled trip to cyberspace, got off to a strong start in domestic theaters, earning $3.8 million in receipts from Tuesday night previews. The 2012 original was a solid performer for the Burbank studio, opening with $49 million in its first three days and eventually collecting $471 million worldwide.

Reviews have been mostly positive for the new film, which skewers online culture and Disney’s own trove of franchises, including its Disney princesses.

Notices for “Creed II,” which cost at least $40 million to make, have been solid, though not as adoring as those for the Ryan Coogler-directed original released three years ago, which earned Sylvester Stallone a best supporting actor Oscar nomination. Still, a debut of $55 million would top the $42-million five-day gross for the first “Creed,” a successful expansion of the “Rocky” franchise.

A new, big-budget Robin Hood revival starring Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx will probably be left with modest scraps, grossing about $17 million on a nearly $100-million budget. Lionsgate is releasing the film, which was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Safehouse Pictures. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures has expanded the theater count for “Green Book” to more than 1,000 after a limited run, and Sony Pictures is pushing its political scandal drama “The Front Runner” into about 800 locations.

Feast or famine?

Amid the Turkey Day studio gluttony, Netflix’s Oscar hopeful “Roma,” produced by Participant Media, is beginning its hotly anticipated debut in three theaters, in New York and Los Angeles, several weeks before the acclaimed Alfonso Cuarón film becomes available for streaming.

The debut of “Roma” (and a select group of other movies including the Coen Bros.’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) marks a break in precedent for the Los Gatos streaming giant, which has previously insisted on never showing movies in theaters before putting them on its service.

The release plans have drawn the ire of the cinema lobbying group, National Assn. of Theatre Owners. The organization’s president John Fithian has dismissed Netflix’s roll out as “little more than a token” and blasted the streamer’s business model. Studios generally wait 90 days after the box office debut to put a movie out on home video.

Netflix, which paid $20 million for the distribution rights for “Roma,” will expand the release to more cities on Dec. 5 before the film comes to the streaming service on Dec. 14.

“Roma,” a highly personal Spanish-language drama about a middle-class family in Mexico City in the 1970s, hardly screams “blockbuster,” though it is considered a likely best-picture contender for awards season. In another departure from studio norms, Netflix is not expected to report box office returns.

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