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Can Holiday Horror ‘Krampus’ Take ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Good Dinosaur’ for Box Office Slay Ride?

The Universal/Legendary dark horror comedy is this weekend’s only wide release, leaving Lionsgate and Pixar to battle again for No. 1

Can the creepy “Krampus,” a dark horror comedy about a child-eating anti-Santa demon strike a chord with North American moviegoers? We’ll find out Friday, when Universal and Legendary Pictures roll out the weekend’s lone wide release in roughly 2,900 theaters.

Tracking and the analysts see it landing in the low-teen millions. But that won’t be enough to overtake Pixar Animation’s “The Good Dinosaur” or Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” for a box office win. The battle for No. 1 could be close, with both films’ high ends likely around $25 million. “Mockingjay – Part 1” did $22 million on the comparable weekend last year.

Spike Lee‘s “Chi-Raq” — the first original movie from Amazon Studios — will roll out in roughly 300 theaters via Roadside Attractions on Friday, ahead of its streaming debut on Amazon Prime.

The PG-13 “Krampus” is based on a scary horned beast from German folklore that surfaces over the Yuletide to terrorize children who have been bad. Adam Scott and Toni Collette star in the film, which is directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty. He’s best known for his work on the scripts of Bryan Singer‘s “X2: X-Men United” and “Superman Returns,” as well as directing the cult horror film “Trick ‘r Treat.”

There aren’t many films to compare with “Krampus,” which carries a $15 million production budget that was reduced by tax credits and was produced by Legendary’s Thomas TullJon Jashni and Alex Garcia.

Its social media profile is a rung below that of the horror remake “Poltergeist,” which debuted to $22 million in a less-competitive May marketplace. There are no reviews yet so it’s a bit of a wildcard for Universal, which despite having the biggest year in box office history, hasn’t had a breakout hit since “Straight Outta Compton” in August.

The Krampus persona, whose big-screen version opens in 24 foreign markets as well this weekend, is well known and celebrated with annual street celebrations in much of Europe. Is it possible that it could catch on in America, where children look for jolly old St. Nick — not a malevolent beast — to slide down their chimneys?

“Maybe eventually,” said BoxOffice.com analyst Shawn Robbins, “but not this weekend.”