Easter may be weeks away, but that won't stop the holiday's iconic bunny from bouncing right over the competition at the box office this weekend.
"Hop," a hybrid computer-animated comedy about the Easter Bunny's teenage son that also features live actors, is on track to open to about $25 million, according to people who have seen prerelease audience surveys.
That should far exceed the ticket sales of "Source Code," a sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which is likely to collect $15 million to $18 million. Another movie opening in wide release this weekend, the horror film "Insidious," is projected to gross about $11 million.
"Hop" was financed by Universal Pictures and Relativity Media for about $63 million, meaning that the film should be off to a pretty good start if projections are accurate. But the movie will face competition from last week's No. 1 film, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," because both are targeting a family audience.
"Hop" was made by producer Chris Meledandri's movie company Illumination Entertainment, which last July released the animated hit "Despicable Me." That film opened to $56.4 million and went on to collect $251.5 million domestically and $276.5 million overseas. But "Hop," whose main character is voiced by comedian Russell Brand, is a live-action-animation combo, and that genre of film has a mixed track record at the box office.
Though the two hybrid films in 20th Century Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" franchise were blockbusters, each grossing more than $350 million worldwide, the studio's "Marmaduke" brought in only $83.7 million globally last year. Warner Bros.' 3-D hybrid "Yogi Bear," which opened to a weak $14.4 million in the U.S. and Canada in December, went on to have a surprisingly long box-office life, ending up with $200 million worldwide.
"Hop" is also opening this weekend in 26 foreign markets, including Britain, Germany and Italy.
"Source Code," about a soldier forced into a secret military program through which he relives the last eight minutes of another man's life, is generating the most interest from older males. The movie was financed by Vendome Pictures, French producer Philippe Rousselet's company, for $32 million after tax credits. Summit Entertainment is distributing the film, which has so far garnered a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Insidious" was produced by the makers of "Paranormal Activity." Like that hit horror franchise, the film starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne was extremely inexpensive to make, with a budget of only $1.5 million. The movie was acquired at the Toronto Film Festival by FilmDistrict, the releasing company formed by producer Graham King last September. "Insidious" is the first release for the new distributor, which plans to acquire and release four to eight pictures a year. Also on tap is "Soul Surfer," which hits theaters next weekend.
In limited release, Weinstein Co. will open a PG-13 version of its best-picture Oscar winner "The King's Speech." A new cut of the film, without Oscar-winning star Colin Firth dropping the f-bomb, will replace the current R-rated version in 1,000 theaters.
Also this weekend, IFC will open the Sundance Film Festival favorite "Super," starring Rainn Wilson, in 11 theaters in five cities, including Los Angeles and New York.