The music-infused family animated film Home and R-rated comedy Get Hard couldn’t be more different, yet both are tracking to open in the mid-$30 million range at the North American box office, putting them in a close race for No. 1 unless one pops.
A debut of that size would only be so-so for Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s embattled DreamWorks Animation, which is in need of a hit. While it’s certainly better than the $25.4 million launch of DWA’s troubled Penguins of Madagascar last fall, it would be well behind such rival studio offerings as The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, which launched to $55.4 million in February.
Home, however, could easily overperform considering the lack of family product in the market. And overseas, it got off to an outstanding start last weekend, grossing $20.1 million from only 10 markets, including a $9.1 million debut in the U.K. The voice cast includes Rihanna in her first turn in an animated film, Jim Parsons, Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin (expect lots of singing from Rihanna and Lopez). Home follows the adventures of a teenage girl on the run and a misfit alien.
Outside of How to Train Your Dragon 2, DWA suffered a dismal 2014. The animation studio announced in February that it took a $57.1 million writedown on Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which opened to $32.2 million in spring 2014 (Peabody had solid legs in the U.S., but didn’t travel well internationally). DWA has said it intends to raise money by selling its Glendale campus for $185 million, then leasing back the space.
Home cost $130 million to make, more than triple the $40 million budget of Get Hard, from Warner Bros. The R-rated comedy stars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, and marks the feature directorial debut of Etan Cohen. Both Ferrell and Hart have strong followings, so, like Home, Get Hard could exceed expectations.
The comedy stars Ferrell as a wealthy businessman who thinks he’s going to jail for tax evasion, so he hires a car washer to teach him how to survive being in prison for 10 years. Alison Brie,Edwina Findley and Craig T. Nelson also star.
Holdover Insurgent should come in No. 2, followed by Cinderella.
One wild card is It Follows, the critically acclaimed horror film that is expanding nationwide on Friday into more than 1,200 theaters.
At the specialty box office, several high-profile titles debut, including director Susanne Bier‘s long-delayed Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper; Noah Baumbach‘s While We’re Young, starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried; Oscar-nominated documentary Salt of the Earth; and Welcome to New York, Abel Ferrara‘s movie inspired by the story of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair and starring Gerard Depardieu.
Ferrara has been trying to block IFC Films from releasing the movie in theaters and on VOD in the U.S., saying it’s not the cut of the film he wanted to be shown.