The actress has had her ups and downs at box office, but this R-rated pot comedy should click
So which Jennifer Aniston shows up at the box office Wednesday: the hitmaker from "Horrible Bosses," "Just Go With It" and "Marley and Me" … or the dudmaker in "Wanderlust," "The Switch" and "Love Happens"?
Smart money's on the good Jen — and that's good news for Warner Bros. and New Line.
Co-starring "SNL" alum Jason Sudeikis, the R-rated pot-smuggling comedy "We're the Millers" will wind up with around $35 million for the five days, industry analysts estimate. That should be enough to top Fox's teen-targeting sci-fi fantasy "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," which also opens Wednesday, and Disney's animated "Cars" spin-off "Planes," which debuts Friday.
But the early favorite to win the weekend is the Matt Damon-Jodie Foster sci-fi thriller "Elysium." Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to "District 9" opens Friday and is projected to take in more than $30 million over the three days.
Aniston was last on the big screen in February of 2012, in the raunchy comedy "Wanderlust" with Paul Rudd. The movie tanked, opening to just $6.5 million — but she did meet beau Justin Theroux while filming.
The timing is right for "We're the Millers," according to BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino.
"There haven't been a lot of comedies this summer, and those that have been out there, like 'The Heat' and 'Grown-Ups 2,' have done well," he said. "Plus, I get the sense that audiences are getting at little burned out on action at this stage of the summer."
Aniston and Sudeikis were last teamed in the R-rated 2011 comedy "Horrible Bosses." That one was a major win for New Line and Warner Bros., taking in nearly $210 million globally on a $35 million production budget, about the same cost as "We're the Millers."
Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story") directs "We're the Millers," in which Sudeikis plays a pot dealer who creates a fake family in order to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S.
Emma Roberts, Ed Poulter and Nick Offerman co-star in the wide release that's hitting more than 3,150 theaters.
Expectations are lower for the PG-rated sequel "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," which the analysts see doing around $25 million over the five days.
"Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" debuted to $31 million in February of 2010 and went on to take in $226 million globally. Its $138 million foreign haul is what justified the sequel, and Fox expects this one will do as well or better overseas.
"We feel good about this one," Fox's distribution chief Chris Aronson said. "The book series that it's based on gives us a built-in base."
Since 2005, Rick Riordan's five-novel young-adult adventure series has sold more than 20 million copies in 35 countries, and have been a fixture on the New York Times best-selling list.
Logan Lehrman returns as the title character in "Sea of Monsters," and the son of Poseidon goes in quest of the Golden Fleece. Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith and Leven Rambin co-star.
Christopher Columbus, who directed two Harry Potter movies and the first "Percy Jackson," is a producer on the sequel, along with Karen Rosenfelt.
Thor Freudenthal takes the director's reins on "Sea of Monsters." He was the director on "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," another teen-angled film that launched a three-film franchise for Fox in 2010.
Fox 2000 and Columbus' 1492 Productions are behind "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," which was produced for roughly $90 million, and will be in roughly 3,000 theaters by Friday.