The Bourne Legacy poised to take box office from The Dark Knight Rises

By Todd Cunningham – LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – “The Bourne Legacy” will end the reign of “The Dark Knight Rises” this weekend, industry analysts say, and could help drive a rebound for the beleaguered U.S. box office.

Universal’s fourth entry in its Bourne franchise – the first with Jeremy Renner subbing in for Matt Damon as the lead – is looking at a three-day total of around $35 million, they say. That should be enough to take down “The Dark Knight Rises” and the other two wide openers, “Hope Springs” and “The Campaign.”

Warner Bros.’ political comedy “The Campaign” will take in around $25 million and Sony’s marriage dramedy “Hope Springs,” which opened to $2.2 million Wednesday, could hit $19 million by Sunday, according to the analysts. Add in another $18 million or so for Batman and this could be the weekend for a bounce-back at a box office first slammed by the Colorado shootings and since then, the Olympics.

“There are several strong movies out there and, with the exception of maybe ‘Bourne Legacy’ and ‘Dark Knight Rises,’ they’re not really competing for the same moviegoers, so it could be a strong overall weekend,” BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap .

The PG-13-rated action thriller “Bourne Legacy” could be a coming out party for Renner as a box-office star. Following his appearance in 2010′s “The Hurt Locker,” he’s been in several blockbusters including “The Avengers,” “Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Thor,” but this time he’ll be front and center.

Renner isn’t the only one stepping into the spotlight on “Bourne Legacy.” Tony Gilroy, who penned the first three screenplays with his brother Dan, is in the director’s chair for the first time since he helmed “Duplicity” in 2009. Newcomers Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton join “Bourne” alums Albert Finney, Joan Allen and David Strathairn in the cast.

“The reviews have been good but not great,” Contrino told TheWrap, “and that may have cost the film some momentum this week.” Sixty percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, 59 percent at Movie Review Intelligence, and Metacritic gives it a 59 rating.

The tracking on “Bourne Legacy” is solid, particularly with older males, but it’s been five years since “The Bourne Ultimatum” opened to $69 million and went to earn $227 million domestically. Universal is opening it in 3,746 theaters.

Just in time for election season, Warner Bros. is rolling out its R-rated comedy “The Campaign,” featuring Will Ferrell and Zach Galafianakis as two Southern politicians vying for a Congressional seat. Jay Roach (“Little Fockers”) directs. Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow co-star.

Galafianakis has a track record of delivering for Warner Bros. in R-rated comedies, including the box office hits “Hangover” and ‘Hangover 2,” and was paired with Robert Downey Jr. in 2010′s “Due Date,” which made $100 million domestically.

Ferrell hasn’t been in a wide release film since “The Other Guys” in 2010. That was a PG-13-rated action comedy with Mark Wahlberg and it made $119 million. He did voice work on “Megamind” but has otherwise recently steered clear of feature films, where his box office numbers have been uneven.

He followed Sony’s “Step Brothers,” which made $100 million in 2008, with “Land of the Lost,” which took in just $49 million for Universal. “Blades of Glory” made $118 million for DreamWorks in 2007, but he followed that with New Line’s “Semi-Pro,” which managed just $33 million.

“The Campaign” is tracking strongly, very well with young women, and the critics like it. Seventy-seven percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, as are 70 percent on Movie Review Intelligence, though Metacritic gives it a 58 rating. Warner Bros. is releasing the film in 3,250 theaters.

“Hope Springs” features Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a longtime married couple who go to see a couples counselor (Steve Carrell) in hopes of breathing new life into their relationship. David Frankel (“Marley and Me”) directs.

Tracking says “Hope Springs” is connecting with its core audience, which is female and couples over 25 years of age. It has resonated with critics, too. Seventy-seven percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive and 70 percent on Movie Review Intelligence are, too. Metacritic gives it a 67 rating.

Sony is tempering expectations for the opening, projecting mid-teen millions for the five days. Mature audiences are generally less likely to rush out to see a film and might be more inclined to stay home and watch the Olympics, but Sony is counting on “Hope Springs” to show some legs for the next month. It is opening in 2,200 theaters.

Warners’ “Dark Knight Rises” may lose its No. 1 spot, but is still going strong and it remains in 4,242 theaters. So far the final film in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has run up $367 million domestically.

That’s behind the franchise’s previous film, “The Dark Knight,” at the same point – it had $410 million after 20 days in release – but the latest film is pacing ahead of its predecessor overseas. “The Dark Knight Rises” has made $378 million abroad and run up $745 million worldwide in just under three weeks.

Warner Bros. remains confident the film will crack the $1 billion mark and be the most lucrative Batman film ever.

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