Hardcore fans of the "Enderverse" have waited nearly 30 years to see "Ender's Game" hit the big screen. But now, supporters of the young-adult series get to see the franchise kick off with a sci-fi legend in a lead role and the promise of a #1 box-office debut.
Box-office analysts expect to see "Ender's Game" end the competition this weekend with an opening in the $26 million range. While that figure isn't anywhere near the massive success of "Gravity" (it will actually be closer to Will Smith's big-budget bomb, "After Earth") it should be more than enough to beat last weekend's champ, "Bad Grandpa," and fend off fellow newcomers. It should be a decent hit for Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, whose "Paranoia" turned out to be one of the worst flops of 2013.
The first animated movie in theaters since "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," the Thanksgiving-friendly "Free Birds," should collect more than $20 million to claim the runner-up position. "Parks & Recreation" star Amy Poehler leads the voice cast.
Ensemble comedy "Last Vegas" should do decent business, while the limited rollouts of "About Time" (from the director or "Love Actually") and Dallas Buyer's Club" (starring Matthew McConaughey) will benefit from the strong reviews of both films. Likely Best Picture contender "12 Years a Slave" will expand its reach to over 400 theaters, having already collected close to $4 million.
"Ender's Game" creator Orson Scott Card kept a close watch over his debut novel as far as Hollywood was concerned, stopping various stages of development for two decades until finally electing to just write the screenplay himself to make sure it was faithful. Card worked on at least a half dozen versions of the script until Gavin Hood signed on to direct from a script that fused "Ender's Game" and the novel "Ender's Shadow." Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford were cast in the leads, with a $110 million budget.