"I, Frankenstein" is the only movie brave enough to go into wide release against last weekend's box-office champ, "Ride Along."
Aaron Eckhart stars as Frankenstein's monster in the 3-D modern "reimagining" of the familiar tale, which jettisons most of the story's classic elements in favor of supernatural action set in the present day. Eckhart, of course, played Two-Face in "The Dark Knight" and returns with another disfigured visage in "I, Frankenstein," but box-office analysts predicted an easy win for Ice Cube and Kevin Hart's record-breaking action comedy going into the weekend.
The weekend will belong to "Ride Along," which set a new January record with its $41.6 million debut over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Second-week projections for "Ride Along" predict an income of $20 million to $24 million.
"I, Frankenstein" will likely open around $14 million, which means Mark Wahlberg's Navy SEAL drama "Lone Survivor" could bump the franchise wannabe from the runner-up position. Lionsgate spent around $65 million on "I, Frankenstein," which means a low start won't be so bad if the movie is able to find life around the world and eventually on iTunes, on-demand, DVD and the like. It's still January and 2014 has yet to see a flop on the scale of 2013 turkeys like Johnny Depp's "The Lone Ranger" (estimated loss for Disney of around $160 million) and Will Smith's sci-fi dud, "After Earth" ($60 million domestic on a $130 million budget).
"I, Frankenstein" will be available in over 2,700 locations this weekend. Vanessa Hudgens' "Gimme Shelter" opened in a fraction of that (384 to be exact), which means the PG-13 drama costarring Rosario Dawson and Brendan Fraser will have a hard time cracking $1 million during its first three days in theaters.
Six-time Oscar nominees "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Nebraska" have both expanded into wider release. "Dallas Buyers Club" has already earned Golden Globes and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Matthew McConaughey and Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto, marking his return to cinema. "Nebraska" filmmaker Alexander Payne is no stranger to the Academy, having helmed the award winning "Sideways" and "The Descendants."
"Ride Along," "Lone Survivor" and "I, Franksenstein" should be joined in the top five by kid-friendly animated comedies "The Nut Job" (which is already nearing $30 million domestically) and the massively popular "Frozen," which has made $765 million around the world since opening in late November. Chris Pine's debut as literary hero Jack Ryan (a role previously played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) got off the weakest start of any of the films in the series. Weekend #2 doesn't look to be too much brighter, with estimates for "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" coming in around $8 million.