Jonah Hill, left, and Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street." (Mary Cybulski / Paramount…)
Martin Scorsese's corrupt Wall Street tycoon is poised for a solid initial box office showing over the crowded Christmas weekend as a pack of new movies, including "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "Grudge Match" and "47 Ronin," competes for moviegoers.
"The Wolf of Wall Street," from Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures, should generate about $35 million in ticket sales from Wednesday through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. It could challenge "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" as the weekend's top-grossing film.
The three-hour drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a young stockbroker who achieves early success in the late 1980s and takes advantage of all the debauchery and power the financial world has to offer. The R-rated film cost roughly $100 million to make.
PHOTOS: Box office top 10 of 2013
The Christmas holiday week is difficult to predict, especially with holdovers such as "Smaug" and "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" continuing to draw people to cinemas.
Still, it looks as if "47 Ronin," the long-delayed samurai movie from Universal Pictures, is an expensive bet that's unlikely to pay off. It could open with a haul of $17 million to $20 million over the five-day weekend and will have to enjoy an impressive run at the multiplex to make up for its budget of at least $175 million, co-financed by Universal and Elliot Inc.
The 3-D production, which stars Keanu Reeves alongside a Japanese cast, has already opened in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia and has grossed around $6.2 million in those countries -- which doesn't bode well for its domestic performance. It hasn't impressed many critics, either, receiving a 11% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
PHOTOS: Best films of 2013 | Kenneth Turan
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," 20th Century Fox's long-awaited comedy-adventure about a daydreamer who embarks on a series of real-life quests, is likely to generate around $16 million in ticket sales on a budget of $91 million. Starring Ben Stiller -- who directed -- and Kristen Wiig, the film generated excitement earlier this year but has earned mixed reviews. It's based on the 1939 New Yorker short story by James Thurber.
Warner Bros.'s "Grudge Match," starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as a pair of aging rival boxers, is expected to take in close to $14 million after costing about $40 million to make.
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," the Weinstein Co.'s biopic about the life of the late South African political hero Nelson Mandela, is expanding wide this week and is expected to pull in about $13 million in ticket sales.
PHOTOS: Best films of 2013 | Betsy Sharkey
For the teenybopper crowd, "Justin Bieber's Believe" will open in more than 1,000 theaters. Although the release's opening is hard to foresee, the inexpensive documentary from Open Road Films is expected to perform in line with the last Bieber movie, 2011's "Never Say Never," which pulled in $73 million domestically over its full run in cinemas.
Red Granite picks up movies dropped by studios
Time Warner Cable and Viacom strike new distribution deal
DreamWorks Animation to unveil first original series for Netflix
Follow on Twitter: @rfaughnder
ON LOCATION: People and places behind what's onscreen
PHOTOS: On the set: movies and TV
PHOTOS: Celebrity production companies