‘Ben-Hur’ to Bomb at $12 Million, ‘Kubo’ and ‘War Dogs’ Will Come in Steady

August wildcard movies make their plays at the box office

All three new wide releases opening this weekend are expected to earn very similar grosses of around $12 million.

But what sets Paramount and MGM’s “Ben-Hur” apart from the pack is that it was made for a whole lot more money than Warner Bros. war dramedy “War Dogs” and Focus Features’ animated movie “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

Produced for a reported $100 million, $12-million estimates put the biblical reboot in line to become one of the biggest box office bombs of the summer. Though Paramount is setting its opening closer to $20 million — perhaps wishful thinking.

Animated feature “Kubo,” with a voice cast including Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron, is expected to make the same — roughly $12 million — at the box office this weekend. Made for about $55 million and getting great reviews so far on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 92 percent score), the movie has better chances at making money both at home and abroad. Plus, animated features have long history of holding more interest weekend-over-weekend than their live-acton counterparts.

With “War Dogs” expected to come in closer to $13 million, there’s a good chance the Jonah Hill and Miles Teller movie will finish ahead of the new heap. But all of this week’s newbies are likely to lose out to holdovers “Suicide Squad,” “Sausage Party,” and “Pete’s Dragon” — though it should be relatively close all around.

Don’t rule out any surprises says comScore senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “August is the month of the edgy, different movies that are often not expected to do as well,” he told TheWrap. “Just look at ‘Sausage Party.'”

Opening in 3,100 locations, “Ben-Hur” stars Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro and Morgan Freeman in the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, who flees his homeland after being falsely accused of treason only to come back years later to seek revenge. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the film’s review embargo has not yet been lifted — never a good sign this close to the release.

“Kubo,” opening in 3,260 theaters, is about a boy’s quest to unlock the secret of his legacy. Set in Japan, the animated feature’s voice cast also includes Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa and Rooney Mara. It was written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, from a story by Shannon Tindle and Haimes. The film was directed by Travis Knight.

Finally, “War Dogs,” produced for roughly $40 million, is opening in 3,100 locations. Directed by Todd Phillips, the film is based on a true story of two men who won a $300-million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. Something of a bromance, “War Dogs” also features a Bradley Cooper in a small, but memorable role.