Box Office: ‘Cloudy’ Looks to End Sony’s Bad Weather With Up to $40 Million

Variety

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After a rough summer at the box office, Sony is poised for a little relief, with toon sequel “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2″ tracking to outdo its 2009 predecessor in the $30 million-$40 million range.

The toon will see the strongest turnout from families with young kids, which may limited its upside, not having support from older kids and teens. Still, some observers anticipate the film to earn north of $40 million through Sunday.

The weekend’s remaining three wide releases look to nab more modest openings in the high-single digits to low-teens. The trio is tracking best with older auds.

Leading the charge is Ron Howard’s $38 million movie about Formula One racing, “Rush,” which expands to 2,296 locations, with expectations in the $10 million-$12 million range. Universal released the film last weekend at five locations, where it underwhelmed with $40,000 per screen, though the film has done decent mid-week business so far.

Relativity Media’s “Don Jon” bows at 2,422 North American engagements and should gross between $8 million and $10 million, a similar range for Fox Searchlight’s urban-targeted “Baggage Claim,” at 2,026.

This weekend last year Sony dominated with “Hotel Transylvania” overperforming with a $42 million domestic bow, which translated into a $148 million Stateside cume, making it the highest-grossing pic for Sony Pictures Animation.

So far, reviews for “Cloudy 2″ have been highly enthusiastic (pic has a 76% rating among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes), which could mean the sequel displays similar legs to the $124 million-grossing original. That’s welcome news for a recently restructured Sony, whose “Smurfs” sequel recently way underperformed at the domestic box office and grossed just $307 million worldwide. The original “Smurfs” nearly doubled that.

Early predictions for “Cloudy 2,” which has the largest opening ever during September at 4,001 locations, are even more encouraging considering the film cost $78 million to produce. Sony launches the sequel in just three smaller day-and-date overseas territories, with plans the expand the film over the coming weeks.

For “Rush,” Stateside expectations have been modest since most U.S. auds are unfamiliar with Formula One racing and the real-life story of drivers James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). That said, mid-week figures suggest word-of-mouth is building steadily — if not exponentially.

Meanwhile, “Don Jon,” a Sundance 2013 pick-up, marks the directorial debut from star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a sex-addicted Jersey boy. Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore co-star.

The film was produced for $5 million-$6 million; Relativity paid $4 million to acquire the pic, with a standard P&A commitment for a wide release.

“Baggage Claim,” which stars Paul Patton, Taye Diggs and Djimon Hounsou, marks the first film this year for Fox Searchlight that targets African Americans, before the bows of “Black Nativity” and “12 Years a Slave.”  The strategy is a significant expansion of the specialty label, though 20th Century Fox is handling distribution duties.

In limited release, Bob Berney’s revived Picturehouse launches music pic “Metallica Through the Never” at 308 locations. The film has an exclusive limited Imax bow, as well.

Entertainment One opens “We Are What We Are” (another Sundance acquisition) at one location each in New York and L.A. The Jim Mickle-helmed re-imagining of the 2010 Mexican cannibal pic expands over the next few weeks.

Bowing

Film (Distributor): Locations

  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony): 4,001
  • Don Jon (Relativity Media): 2,422
  • Baggage Claim (Fox Searchlight): 2,026
  • Metallica Through the Never (Picturehouse): 308
  • Morning (Anchor Bay): 4
  • We Are What We Are (eOne): 2

Expanding

  • Rush (Universal): 5-2,296

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