Warner Bros. war dramedy “War Dogs” moved ahead of the pack of new releases, making $5.5 million during Friday night showings.
Among the other two new wide releases, Focus Features’ animated movie “Kubo and the Two Strings” made $4.1 million on Friday, and Paramount and MGM’s big-budget “Ben-Hur” made the same — $4.1 million.
Earlier this week, all three new movies were expected to earn very similar three-day grosses of around $12 million. And now it looks like “War Dogs” will exceed initial expectations, moving closer to $15 million. “Ben-Hur” is falling behind, unlikely to even clear previous predictions of $12 million.
What sets the biblical epic apart from the pack is that it was made for a whole lot more money than this weekend’s other two new wide releases.
Produced for $100 million, estimates in the low teens put the decades-later reboot in line to become one of the biggest box office bombs of the summer. Paramount had previously set its opening closer to $20 million — perhaps wishful thinking.
Animated feature “Kubo,” with a voice cast including Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron, is expected to end the weekend with roughly $12 million.
Made for about $55 million, the film is getting great reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96 percent, plus an A Cinemascore — measuring fan anticipation among those surveyed. Set in Japan, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is poised to make strong grosses abroad. Plus, animated features have a long history of holding more consistent interest weekend-over-weekend than live-acton movies.
With “War Dogs” expected to come in closer to $15 million, the Jonah Hill and Miles Teller movie should finish ahead of the new heap.
But all of this week’s newbies are likely to lose out to holdovers “Suicide Squad,” expected to take the weekend with $20 million, and “Sausage Party,” tracking to surpass $15 million.
Opening in 3,084 locations, “Ben-Hur” stars Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro and Morgan Freeman in the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, who flees his homeland after being falsely accused of treason only to come back years later to seek revenge. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the film is getting a low 31 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and an A- Cinemascore.
“Kubo,” opening in 3,260 theaters, is about a boy’s quest to unlock the secret of his legacy. Set in Japan, the animated feature’s voice cast also includes Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa and Rooney Mara. It was written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, from a story by Shannon Tindle and Haimes. The film was directed by Travis Knight.