The sci-fi class warfare tale "Elysium" will face its strongest competition from Disney's "Planes" as they enter theaters alongside the comedy "We're the Millers" and a second installment in the adaptation of the "Percy Jackson" series.
"Elysium" is filmmaker Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to his acclaimed "District 9." The dystopian story, set in a future where the rich live in luxury aboard a space station while the working class toil in squalor below, marks Damon's first foray into full-on, live-action science fiction. Damon expressed his fondness for the genre in a recent MTV News interview, in which he cited "Aliens," "Blade Runner" and "Star Wars" as favorites (and said nice things about JJ Abrams).
The year's other big-budget, non-sequel sci-fi stories — Tom Cruise's "Oblivion," director Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" and Will Smith's box-office bomb "After Earth" — preceded Damon's R-rated picture. All things considered, industry watchers have predicted an opening weekend in the low to mid-$30 million range. That would put the $115 million fantasy at #1, though a few million shy of the debuts of "Oblivion," "Pacific Rim" and 2009's "District 9."
The #2 position should belong to Disney's "Cars" spin-off "Planes," which features comedian Dane Cook in the lead voice role. While technically not a Pixar film, Disney Toon Studios' "Planes" does boast Pixar boss John Lasseter as executive producer. Nevertheless, critics have been less kind to "Planes" than even the worst-reviewed Pixar film ever, "Cars 2." But "Planes" should muster between $24 and $28 million in its debut, against a production budget around $50 million.
Jason Sudeikis will test his post-"Saturday Night Live" power in "We're the Millers," which reunites the comedic actor with his "Horrible Bosses" co-star Jennifer Aniston. The Internet was already abuzz about Aniston's performance (and physique) as a stripper in the comedy by the time the two stars sat down with MTV News' Josh Horowitz for a candid "Yes/No Show" talk about weed, lap dances, "Office Space," the "Friends" theme and Warwick Davis.
"We're the Millers" had a "rotten" score on film criticism aggregator Rotten Tomatoes when it opened on Wednesday, but audiences who saw the comedy during its first day in theaters assigned it a CinemaScore of A–. "Millers" should land at #3 in the weekend race, with a five-day total of around $30 million; not bad for a $37 million movie.
"We're the Millers" made an estimated $6.7 million on Wednesday, which was more than "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," which also opened early. The follow-up to 2010's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" is reportedly more faithful to the young adult novel source material. The film's star recently told MTV News that Percy is "not the hero anymore" in the sequel. When the story begins, "he's filled with self-doubt," revealed Logan Lerman.
The first "Percy Jackson" movie made just $88.4 million domestically during its run, with an additional $137 million in overseas revenue. "Monsters" should make about $19 million this weekend for a five-day total of around $28 million.
Last weekend's #1 film, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahblerg's "2 Guns," should round out the top five. Hugh Jackman's sixth turn as "The Wolverine" should come in right behind, with "The Smurfs 2" trailing the mutant hero.