Forecast: 'Sniper' to Easily Fight Off Weak Competition This Weekend
Three new wide releases hit theaters this weekend, though none of them have the slightest chance of taking first place away from American Sniper.

Among those new releases, The Boy Next Door seems to have the edge; the Jennifer Lopez thriller should wind up in second place with at least $15 million. Meanwhile, Mortdecai and Strange Magic will likely wind up below $10 million.

American Sniper opened to a stunning $89.3 million last weekend, which ranks second all-time for an R-rated movie behind The Matrix Reloaded. It has also held well through the week—its $7.55 million Wednesday haul is very impressive—which is usually a good indicator of a strong second weekend.

To help meet the high demand, American Sniper is expanding to 3,705 theaters, which is the widest release ever for an R-rated movie. Based on the mid-week performance, it's likely that the movie earns at least $50 million this weekend. If it gets closer to $60 million, it will put the movie on track for at least $300 million total.

The Boy Next Door opens at 2,602 locations this weekend, and should earn the most among this weekend's newcomers. The erotic thriller stars Jennifer Lopez as a woman whose affair with a young neighbor takes a dangerous turn after she cuts things off. Advertisements set the premise up nicely, and seem to have a tongue-in-cheek quality that helps distract from some of the less savory elements of the story.

Lopez had a solid box office track record in the early 2000s, when she starred in solid hits like The Cell, The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan and Monster-in-Law. In the past decade, though, her only real leading role was in The Back-Up Plan, which opened to a so-so $12.2 million back in early 2010. She was also featured in Parker, which bombed on this same weekend in 2013, though that was more of a Jason Statham vehicle. Recently, she's spent a few seasons as a judge on American Idol.

A strong comparison for The Boy Next Door is 2013 R-rated thriller The Call, which featured Halle Berry in her first leading role in many years. That movie exceeded expectations with a $17.1 million debut on its way to $51.9 million total; it wouldn't be entirely surprising if The Boy Next Door wound up in the same ballpark. Universal is more modestly expecting low-teen-millions for the movie, which they say is tracking best among women and Latino audiences.

The Boy Next Door is the first of at least nine movies scheduled for nationwide release this year that were produced by Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious). His connection isn't mentioned in any of the marketing material, though, which may be a smart strategy given the volume of upcoming movies that are better fits for that horror brand.

Continued with a look at 'Mortdecai' and 'Strange Magic,' along with official weekend predictions >>

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