Box Office: Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington Aim '2 Guns’ at $30 Million Target

Box Office: Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington Aim '2 Guns' at $30 Million Target

But "Smurfs 2" could get the last laugh with huge foreign haul

Americans like guns, the rest of the world likes … weird little blue guys. So goes the box office this weekend.

The Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg buddy movie “2 Guns” is the best bet to cop the domestic box-office crown with around $30 million, analysts say, while “Smurfs 2” will score a major foreign haul.

“Smurfs 2” actually has a shot at eclipsing "2 Guns" domestically – but over five days, since it opened at No. 1 with $5.2 million Wednesday. A three-day total of around $23 million is the projection for “Smurfs 2.”

The R-rated action comedy “2 Guns” reunites Wahlberg with Universal for the first time since the 2012 breakout box-office hit “Ted.” Since then, he's been in Paramount's “Pain and Gain” and Fox's “Broken City,” both of which disappointed earlier this year.

The odds are better on “2 Guns,” in part because of the presence of Washington, a reliable box office performer who has been on a hot streak of late. He plays a DEA agent who finds himself on the run with a naval intelligence officer (Wahlberg) after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel.

Also read: Denzel Washington: Mr. Dependable Looks to Extend Box-Office Hot Streak With '2 Guns'

“We feel good about the weekend,” said Universal's head of distribution Nikki Rocco, who sees the film coming in around $25 million. “We're a good counter to ‘The Smurfs,’ but there's still plenty of competition out there. ‘The Wolverine’ isn't going anywhere, so we'll see.” 

Baltasar Kormaku, who directed Wahlberg in “Contraband,” directs from a script by Blake Masters, which is based on the BOOM! Studios graphic novels by Steven Grant. Paula Patton, Bill Paxton and Fred Ward co-star.

"Guns'" social media signs are getting better, though its pre-release buzz is still behind “Safe House,” the 2012 action film that starred Washington and Ryan Reynolds and took in more than $200 million worldwide. Reviews have been so-so, with 60 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

“2 Guns” is produced by Marc Platt, Randall Emmett, Norton Herrick, Adam Siegel, George Furla, Ross Richie and Andrew Cosby. The film was financed to the tune of $61 million by Emmett/Furla Films and Foresight Unlimited which handled international sales. It will be in 3,023 theaters, less than the 3,866 of "Smurfs 2."

Sony's 3D animated-live-action mash-up is expected to be a force abroad, where it will open in 42 territories including major markets Russia, the U.K., Brazil, Mexico and South Korea.

Also read: 'Smurfs 2' Starts Fast at Box Office in U.S. and in U.K.

The original movie made more than $420 million in 2011, compared to $143 million domestically, and a similar split is likely for the sequel. It brought in a healthy $1.4 million in its first day in the U.K.

Additionally, Sony in June announced that it had sealed more than $150 million in corporate support for “Smurfs 2,” with partners including McDonald's, Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us.

The critics hate it – it's at 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes – but they're not elementary-school students. It received an "A-" CinemaScore from first-night audiences.

The bigger question might be how much disposable income parents have left after a summer filled with animated movies. “Monsters University” and “Despicable Me 2” have been hits, and the latter is still in the marketplace along with DreamWorks Animation's “Turbo.” Disney debuts its animated “Planes” in a week.

“Smurfs 2” is directed by Raja Gosnell, and features voice stars Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Christina Ricci, Hank Azaria and Brendan Gleeson. Jordan Kerner produced the PG-rated kids film, made for $100 million — relatively low for an animated film.

Also read: 'Pacific Rim' $9M China Opener Is Bigger than 'Harry Potter

The Sundance hit “The Spectacular Now” tops the weekend's specialty releases. 

Financed by Andrew Lauren and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the team responsible for "(500) Days of Summer," "Spectacular Now" is a high school movie with big issues on its mind, including alcoholism and substance abuse; co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn't the only thing it shares with director James Ponsoldt's previous film, "Smashed."

Like "Smashed," it's a character piece with strong central performances by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Distributor A24 has the R-rated comedy drama, which stars Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson, in four theaters.

Also opening this weekend is the Lindsay Lohan-James Deen romantic thriller “The Canyons.”

Distributor IFC Films is opening the film, written by James Easton Ellis and directed by Paul Schrader, at New York's IFC Theater on Friday and it will be available on video on demand.