Updated 9:18 a.m. PT Saturday
The real Navy SEALs of Relativity's shoot-'em-up "Act of Valor" are doing some real damage to the competition at this weekend's box office: The R-rated action film took an estimated $9 million Friday and is on track to gross nearly $26 million for the weekend.
"Tyler Perry's Good Deeds," from Lionsgate, took about $5.4 million, and is looking at a weekend just short of $15 million — about $2 million below pre-release expectations, but still good enough to make it the No. 2 movie in North America.
The weekend's other two new movies, Universal's "Wanderlust" and Summit's 'Gone," are seriously underperforming. "Wanderlust," which received an unimpressive "B-" score from the audience polling firm Cinemascore, only took $2.2 million on Friday. It is expected to take around $6.2 million over the weekend.
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"Gone," which got a "C+" Cinemascore, managed only around $1.7 million on Friday and is looking at a $4.5 million weekend.
"Act of Valor" and "Good Deeds" each got "A" Cinemascores.
"Act of Valor" will be the lone movie to break $20 million this weekend. Last weekend, three movies — "Safe House," "The Vow" and "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" cracked $20 million over three days. Over last week's four-day Presidents Day weekend, five films exceeded $20 million.
There are some strong holds though.
New Line's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" continues to slog away, taking $3.2 million on Friday. It is on track to be No. 3 at the domestic box office with $13.5 million in its third week of release.
Likewise, Universal's "Safe House" and Sony's "The Vow" continue to draw audiences. "The Vow" brought in about $3.3 million Friday, and "Safe House" took $3.1 million. "The Vow" has now grossed nearly $96.3 million and will become the first Screen Gems release to exceed $100 million at the box office.
"Act of Valor," an action movie starring actual Navy SEALs, is poised to be the top movie at the box office this weekend.
Relativity Media says it expects to debut its adrenaline-fueled film — the SEALs used live ammunition in some of the battle scenes — to between $15 million and $17 million.
Less conservative box-office watchers outside the studio say the number is more likely to be around $23 million.
"Act of Valor" is almost certain to post the best opening of the four movies debuting this weekend. But the Oscar weekend looks to be considerably less lucrative than last week's four-day President's Day frame when five films topped the $20 million mark.
Among this week's other new entries, "Tyler Perry's Good Deeds," from Lionsgate, is expected to take in around $17 million. Summit's "Gone" and Universal's "Wanderlust" are hoping to break into double-digits.
Interestingly, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" could well take third place for the weekend. The PG-rated film from New Line broke the $200 million mark worldwide Thursday, and is on track to gross around $12 million — and perhaps as much as $13.5 million.
New Line's family film, entering its third week of release, grossed $25.9 over the long Presidents Day weekend, and $19.8 million over the three days. Domestically, it has taken nearly $62 million so far.
Relativity has two new pictures in the mix this weekend: "Act of Valor," of course, and Universal's "Wanderlust," on which it is a partner.
The studio acquired "Act of Valor" for $13 million from Bandito Brothers. By selling international rights and making other deals, Relativity decreased its exposure to about $5.5 million.
"Act of Valor" is targeted at men between 18 and 54. Relativity ran a commercial for the film during the Super Bowl and has targeted gamers, country fans and military wives with a social media outreach.
The movie is about a team of SEALs that rescues an American agent who has been kidnapped abroad and finds information about a terrorist attack — which it then thwarts.
Males seem to be responding in strong numbers. According to the research firm NRG, 68 percent of moviegoers report some awareness of the movie. Among men younger than 25, the number is 78 percent, and among those 25 and older, it is 81 percent.
More importantly, 18 percent of all men say the movie is their "first choice" for weekend viewing.
Critics aren't so sanguine: The movie review aggregator Metacritic gave it a 42, Movie Review Intelligence gave it a 43 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 25.
It opens in 3,039 locations.
"Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" is a PG-13 comedic drama starring Perry, Thandie Newton and Gabrielle Union. It's about about a businessman whose staid life is interrupted when he meets a woman who works on the cleaning crew in his office building.
In a bad sign for the movie, Lionsgate did not screen the movie for critics. Similarly, Summit chose not to screen "Gone."
"Good Deeds" has adequate tracking. NRG's numbers show that 57 percent of moviegoers are aware of the movie. Its highest awareness level is among women, 64 percent of whom report awareness of the movie.
It opens in 2,132 locations.
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It is tracking strongest among women younger than 25 — 64 percent of whom report awareness of the movie.
It opens in 2,186 locations.
David Wain directed the movie about a Manhattan couple that, confronted by sudden unemployment, moves to a commune where free love rules.
Its tracking is weak: 60 percent of moviegoers report awareness of the movie. Even among its strongest demographic — people 25 and older — only 29 percent say they have "definite" interest in seeing the film.
It opens in 2,001 locations.