Four well-targeted films hit domestic multiplexes Friday, but the weekend forecast suggests prospects are sunniest for the 3D animated feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Based on a popular children's book, Sony's Meatballs is rated PG and should appeal primarily to family moviegoers. An opening of $25 million-$30 million looks likely based on prerelease tracking surveys, though Sony executives stress that they will be pleased even with the lower end of that range.
Meatballs will play on a record 1,828 3D screens and a total of 3,118 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
Elsewhere among the new releases, Fox's Megan Fox-toplined horror flick Jennifer's Body appears headed for a second-place bow in the low-teen millions.
Expect 18- to 25-year-olds to display the most fervent embrace of Body, which Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux) directed from a screenplay by Diablo Cody (Juno). Support likely will be split evenly between males and females.
Though males will come to see Fox, the so-so early buzz on the movie will keep their numbers underwhelming. Females tend to find Fox off-putting, mitigating their enthusiasm for the film's male-mauling premise.
Warner Bros.' Matt Damon starrer The Informant! also seems a bit at war with itself commercially.
Based on the true-life tale of Archer Daniels Midland whistleblower Mark Whitacre, the Steven Soderbergh-helmed pic is part comedy and part thriller. While the R-rated release is likely to skew older, a muddied marketing message might keep its opening to the low double-digit millions through Sunday.
Universal's romantic drama Love Happens, starring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston, totes a PG-13 rating. But with interest limited primarily to females, Love faces a challenge if it's to break out of the single-digit millions this session.
Last weekend's box-office champ -- Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself, from Lionsgate -- also could figure in the scrap for the upper rankings. Perry pictures occasionally post big sophomore-session drops, but a decent hold would put Bad into double-digit millions for the weekend.
On an industrywide basis, the frame will be compared with an $89 million weekend from 2008 that was topped by the $15 million bow of Sony's suspense feature Lakeview Terrace. Industryites will be looking to get back into the win column after last weekend's posting of the first year-over-year downtick in seven weeks.