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Box Office Preview: ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘That’s My Boy’ Will Battle for No. 2

"Madagascar 3," still alone in the family market, is expected to stay No. 1 at weekend box office. "Rock of Ages" and "That's My Boy" are pegged for mid-twenties to $30M

Tom Cruise hits the stage in the comedy musical "Rock of Ages" and Adam Sander surfaces as a bad dad in "That's My Boy" this weekend, but they'll have a tough time dislodging "Madagascar 3" from atop the box office.

"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," which will have the family market to itself until Disney bows Pixar's "Brave" next week, will repeat at No. 1 and take in around $35 million, analysts predict.  

The newcomers are expected to battle for second. Warner Bros.' "Rock of Ages" is projected to take in from the mid-twenties to $30 million, and Sony's "That's My Boy" is tracking at between the mid-twenties and $28 million, according to the analysts. That's much higher than the studios' projections, which are in the high teens. 

"These aren't the kind of movies that people sound passionate about or go online to talk about, but they're both going to do significant walk-up business," Phil Contrino, editor-in-chief at BoxOffice.com told TheWrap Thursday. And if everything clicks, he said, "Rock of Ages" could pull an upset.

"It's the de facto date-night movie," Jeff Bock, Exhibitor Relations' senior analyst, told TheWrap Thursday. Women are expected to make up more than half of the movie's opening weekend audience, he said, so attracting males will be a key. 

"It might be that rare movie beast," Contrino said, "a musical that young men aren't scared of." 

Also read: When Tom Cruise's Baboon Ran Amok on 'Rock of Ages' Set (Exclusive)

Warner Bros. is rolling out the PG-rated rock comedy in 3,470 locations, 35 of which are Imax. It's also bowing the "Rock of Ages" in few key countries — the U.K., Germany, Russia and Australia — hoping to kick-start a staggered overseas release strategy. 

Based on the Broadway musical, it provides a breakout opportunity for stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta in this tale of the late-'80s Sunset Strip music scene. The supporting cast is impressive with Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Mary J. Blige.

Adam Shankman ("Hairspray") directs from a script by Chris D'Arienzo, Allan Loeb and Justin Theroux. Tobey Maguire produced and D'Ariendo and Shankman are executive producers.

Also read: 'Rock of Ages' Review: Somebody Please Unplug This Jukebox Musical

The critics aren't exactly holding their lighters high. At MovieReviewIntelligence.com, 54 percent of the reviews are positive. Rotten Tomatoes shows 43 percent positive and MovieCritic.com gives it a 47 rating.

"'Mamma Mia' didn't get the greatest reviews, either," Bock pointed out.

Movie musicals are relatively rare, and a mixed bag at the recent box office. "Mamma Mia," starring Meryl Streep, opened to $27 million in the U.S. in 2008 and went on to gross $610 million worldwide. "Hairspray" opened to $27 million too, and did $202 million worldwide in 2007. On the lower end, "Burlesque" bowed to $12 million in 2010, on its way to $90 million globally.

Just in time for the Father's Day weekend, Sony is releasing the R-rated comedy "That's My Boy" into 3,030 theaters.

Sandler stars as a former reality TV star who fathered a son (Andy Samberg) and raised him as a single parent up until the boy's 18th birthday. After not seeing each other for years, the son's world comes crashing down when dad shows up. Leighton Meester co-stars. Sean Anders directed from a script by David Caspe. Sony puts the production budget at around $65 million.

"The rating could cost them some kids," said Contrino, "but it could also help Sandler reconnect with some of his older fans, who may have checked out after 'Jack and Jill.' "

In three decades, Sandler's films have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. Last year's "Jack and Jill" opened to $25 million in the U.S. and went on to gross around $150 million worldwide. That's well below last year's "Just Go With It," which grossed $214 million worldwide, 2010's "Grown Ups" ($271 million) or 2008's "Bedtime Stories" ($212 million).

Also read: 'That's My Boy' Review: Not Adam Sandler's Worst, But Still Terrible

"This will be the first true R-rated comedy for him and (his film company) Happy Madison," said Bock. "He gets to push the envelope and that could help him connect with his very big and very loyal fan base. And Samberg could bring in some people, too."

The notices have ranged from cool to cruel. Just 30 percent of the reviews on MovieReviewIntelligence are positive, and 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic gives it an 18 rating. 

That bad reviews? "Critics aren't going to change anyone's mind about Adam Sandler movies," Bock said.

Fox's Ridley Scott sci-fi epic "Prometheus" returns for a second week after a $50 million bow, very strong for an R-rated movie. Its second-week hopes — about $23 million is the projection — hinge on extending beyond its sci-fi fan base.

Also read: 10 Highest-Grossing R-Rated Movies of All Time

"Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" continues as the summer's breakout specialty film hit, and is on track to hit $40 million in the U.S. It passed the $32 million mark earlier this week, and that's on top of its $82 million overseas haul.

Also read: How 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Became This Summer's Surprise Indie Smash

Distributor Fox Searchlight has the film in 1,185 theaters this week. Director John Madden's tale of British retirees in India stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel.

Also read: 'Safety Not Guaranteed' Review: A Time-Traveling Trip Worth Taking

FilmDistrict is expanding "Safety Not Guaranteed" into about 50 theaters. Colin Trevorrow directs Derek Connolly's tale of magazine employees who interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel. Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson and Kar an Soni star in the R-rated comedy, exec-produced by Jay and Mark Duplass.

Mark Duplass stars with Emily Blunt and Rosemarie Dewitt in "Your Sister's Sister," written and directed by Lynn Shelton ("Humpday"), on 13 screens.