Brute, '80s-style action is set to trump modern female-empowerment at the weekend box office, with Lionsgate's "Expendables" expected to lead all comers with about $35 million. That includes Sony's Julia Roberts-driven "Eat Pray Love," expected to gross $25 million on its opening weekend.
Also debuting wide this weekend: Universal Comic-Con buzz film "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."
Opening in 3,270 theaters, directed by its star, Sylvester Stallone, and produced by Avi Lerner for $82 million, "Expendables" is set to dominate male audiences this weekend.
Packing a dream-team level of 1980s-era action-movie talent, also including Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren, a $30-million-plus performance would be just fine for Lionsgate, which acquired North American rights and a piece of the back end for around $20 million.
While more modern action heroes like Statham will help to up "Expendables'" hunk factor, attracting the female quadrants might still prove challenging, especially with "Eat Pray Love" entering the market in 3,082 theaters.
Shot for around $60 million, directed by "Glee" showrunner Ryan Murphy (he also directed "Running with Scissors"), and co-starring Javier Bardem and James Franco, the PG-13-rated Sony film is expected to gross about $25 million over the weekend.
Discounting ensemble box office successes including February's "Valentine's Day" and the "Ocean's Eleven" franchise, a $20 million-plus opening would be Roberts' biggest since 2001's "America's Sweethearts" started out to $30.2 million.
"Scott Pilgrim" will debut in 2,829 theaters and — despite good reviews and ample Comic-Con acceptance — is only expected to gross around $15 million this weekend.
Directed by Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz," "Shaun of the Dead") and starring Michael Cera, "Scott Pilgrim" needs to exceed tracking if it's going to be profitable, given its sizable $60 million negative cost.
"This is such a unique film, nobody really knows what it's going to do," said Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco. "There's not much to compare it to."
For his part, Cera has only one solid wide opening on his resume, coming in 2007 with "Superbad" ($33.1 million).
Among notable holdovers, last weekend's box-office champ, Sony Will Ferrell comedy "The Other Guys," will take in around $17 million-$18 million, should it experience a standard 50 percent drop.
Warner's Christopher Nolan-directed "Inception," meanwhile, should take in around $13 million in its fifth weekend.