Box office preview
The competition will cower in the face of "Brave" at the box office this weekend, as the 3-D animated picture is expected to dominate at the multiplex.
The movie, from Walt Disney Studios' Pixar animation unit, probably will open with a strong sum of around $65 million in ticket sales, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
That's far more than either of the other two new films hitting theaters this weekend are expected to make. The supernatural 3-D action movie "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" will probably start off with a so-so $20 million, although distributor 20th Century Fox is predicting a weaker opening of around $16 million. Meanwhile, the inexpensive Focus Features dramedy "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, is projected to debut with a solid $7 million.
"Brave" centers around a teenage princess named Merida who is feistier than a handful of Disney's most recent fairy tale heroines. She knows how to shoot arrows, has a long mane of unruly red hair and prefers riding her horse through the Scottish highlands to wearing ball gowns.
The film's marketing has emphasized physical comedy and the character's tomboyish nature in an effort to pull in both boys and girls. But the movie has yet to generate much interest among young males.
Pixar has an excellent track record at the box office; all its films have debuted in the No. 1 position and benefited from glowing reviews. But its last release, "Cars 2," was one of the company's only critical misfires and was the worst domestic performer since 1998's "A Bug's Life."
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" has generated poor reviews, notching only a 28 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That could be because fans have expressed early skepticism about the film's premise, which features the president as a man set on killing the nation's vampires.
The film, which stars newcomer Benjamin Walker, does not feature any recognizable actors but is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. Fox spent roughly $69 million to produce the film, which is appealing mostly to men under age 25.
"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is aiming to offer adults - particularly women - an alternative to the weekend's other premieres. The movie stars Carell as a hapless insurance salesman who befriends Knightley, a free-spirited bohemian, on the eve of the apocalypse.
Focus Features will release the $10-million production in about 1,500 theaters, more than 1,000 fewer than either "Brave" or "Abraham Lincoln." Focus is hoping that the movie's idiosyncratic plot could make the film a sleeper hit, like the company's 2004 film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," though it has earned mixed to negative reviews.