Playing at 3,153 locations, Dumb and Dumber To could be in a close race for first place against holdovers Big Hero 6 and Interstellar.
Relativity Media is also releasing Beyond the Lights at 1,789 locations, while Birdman is expanding nationwide after four strong weeks in limited release. It's also a busy weekend at the specialty box office, with Saving Christmas, Rosewater, Foxcatcher and The Homesman all debuting.
Dumb and Dumber arrived at the end of 1994, which capped a year in which Jim Carrey went from unknown to A-list in remarkably quick fashion. Earlier that year, Carrey starred in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask, which earned $72.2 million and $119.9 million, respectively. Dumb and Dumber would prove to be an even bigger hit with $127.2 million, or the equivalent of over $240 million today.
For the next decade, Jim Carrey was one of the most bankable stars working in movies: massive Carrey hits included Liar Liar ($181.4 million), How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million) and Bruce Almighty ($242.8 million).
The well has dried up a bit in recent years, though. Carrey's last live-action $100-million movie was Fun with Dick and Jane back in 2005. Last year, he had supporting roles in two major flops: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone ($22.5 million) and Kick-Ass 2 ($28.8 million).
Dumb and Dumber directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly have also struggled lately, with their last five movies all wrapping up between $33 and $45 million at the domestic box office. Looking for a sure-fire hit, Carrey and the Farrellys finally answered the call to return for a Dumb and Dumber sequel.
While fans have been clamoring for a sequel for the better part of two decades, could this be a case of "too little, too late"? In recent years, plenty of long-delayed sequels have earned substantially less than their predecessors. That list includes Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, 300: Rise of An Empire, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and Scream 4.
It doesn't help that the Dumb brand was tarnished a bit thanks to 2003 prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, which flopped with $26.3 million (though it's important to note that the key players from the original weren't involved).
Marketing for this installment has been a mixed bag. Both the jokes and the visual style feel firmly rooted in the 90s: that works from a nostalgia perspective, though it doesn't seem to fit within the current comedy climate. Still, everything on display aligns nicely with the brand, and has clearly signaled that these characters are back and dumber than ever.
There's plenty of reasons to believe that Dumb and Dumber To will do quite well this weekend. It's the first major comedy in quite some time, and awareness is very high. Advanced ticket sales are also strong: Fandango reports that the movie is outselling We're the Millers and Anchorman 2, which both opened over $26 million after burning off demand with Wednesday debuts.
Its worth noting that Universal Pictures released another long-delayed comedy sequel on this same weekend last year: The Best Man Holiday opened over 14 years after the original The Best Man, and scored an impressive $30.1 million in its first frame. Universal has indicated that a similar number would be a win for Dumb and Dumber To.
Even if Dumb and Dumber To falls short at the domestic box office, it should make up ground overseas. The first movie earned $120 million at the international box office back in 1995; inevitably, that number is going to be higher this time around.
If Dumb and Dumber To winds up around $30 million this weekend, it will be in a tight race for first place against Big Hero 6 and Interstellar. With strong reviews and word-of-mouth, Big Hero 6 should hold up well in its second outing. Wreck-It Ralph dropped 33 percent around the same time in 2012; even with a steeper drop than that, Big Hero 6 should still be in line for well over $30 million.
Meanwhile, Interstellar will likely earn over $25 million its second frame. While word-of-mouth is all over the map, there is a consistent through line that the movie needs to be seen on the big screen. Add in its appeal with older moviegoers (who tend to avoid opening weekend) and strong holds in its IMAX locations (which were near capacity last weekend), and this should drop less than 50 percent.
Continued with a look at 'Beyond the Lights,' 'Rosewater' and 'Foxcatcher,' along with official weekend predictions >>
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• Last Weekend's Report: 'Interstellar,' 'Big Hero 6' to Achieve Liftoff This Weekend
• Last Weekend's Forecast: Disney's 'Big Hero 6' Eclipses Nolan's 'Interstellar'