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This Weekend’s Box Office Showdown: ‘Nun’ vs ‘Predator’

Second weekend for WB’s ”Conjuring“ spinoff will go up against Shane Black’s take on the space alien-big game hunter franchise

A demonic nun and a race of extraterrestrial hunters will go head-to-head at the box office this weekend as 20th Century Fox’s “The Predator” will take on “The Nun” in its second weekend, with analysts expecting “The Predator” to take the top spot, albeit with rather lackluster numbers.

Releasing this weekend on over 4,000 screens, “The Predator” is expected to earn an opening weekend in the high $20 million range, with the top end of independent projections standing at $30 million. By comparison, last year’s “Alien: Covenant” opened to $36.1 million in May and went on to gross just $74.2 million domestically and $240 million worldwide against a $97 million budget.

While “The Predator” would hold the highest opening weekend for the 31-year-old franchise, it’s also by far the most expensive in the series with a reported production budget of $88 million. The original 1987 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was produced on a $15 million budget — around $30 million in today’s money — and the 2010 film “Predators,” which opened to $24.6 million, had a budget of $40 million. With such a high price tag, such tracking shows “The Predator” faces an uphill battle to profitability.

The performance of “Alien: Covenant” is already a sign that there might not be widespread interest in these older monster movie series outside of hardcore fans, but Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock thinks the problem is also casting. While the cast of “The Predator” is heavily talented — including Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Keegan Michael-Key, Sterling K. Brown, and “Moonlight” star Trevante Rhodes — there’s no one with the box office power that Schwarzenegger had 30 years ago.

“Franchises like ‘Predator’ are like the WWE of movie-making. You need to have a big box office draw,” said Bock. “I’m surprised that this didn’t end up being a film packaged like ‘The Expendables’ with a bunch of Hollywood badasses going against these big monsters. This movie is likely going to need a lot of help from overseas to turn a profit.”

Written and directed by Shane Black, “The Predator” starts with a boy (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally turning on an alien signal that he thinks is a toy. The signal triggers the return of the titular alien race, which has become even stronger thanks to DNA fusion with other races it has hunted. The film has a 45 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Nun,” meanwhile, is expected to have a second weekend drop-off of more than 50 percent, in part because of the film’s weak critical and audience reception, but also because of the general trend of front-loaded numbers that horror films often face. While some films like “Get Out” and “It” have bucked that trend during this recent hot streak for horror, a substantial drop-off is still typically expected for the genre as “The Nun” should have a weekend in the low $20 million range.

Also releasing this week is the Sony/Studio 8 drama “White Boy Rick,” which stars Matthew McConaughey in a role that could get him awards consideration. The film has a reported budget in the high $20 million range and is estimated to earn $8-10 million from 2,500 locations. With popcorn films like “The Predator” and “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” dominating the wide release schedule this month, Sony is hoping for this film to leg out with older audiences who tend to see movies in their later weeks.

“White Boy Rick” stars McConaughey and newcomer Richie Merritt as a father and son duo living in Detroit at the height of the cocaine wars in the 1980s. The son, Rick Wershe, Jr., became known as an undercover police informant and one of the city’s most successful drug dealers before being abandoned by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison — all before the age of 18. Yann Demange (“’71”) directed the film from a script written by Andy Weiss with Logan and Noah Miller.

Female audiences are expected to show up for Lionsgate’s Paul Feig thriller “A Simple Favor,” which is projected for an opening in the mid-teens from 3,000 screens. Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Henry Golding, the film follows a small-town blogger who sets out to discover why her best friend, Emily, has suddenly disappeared. Emily’s husband joins in the search, only for the two to fall down a path of mystery and murder. Written by Jessica Sherzer, the film has an 88 percent RT score.

Finally, there’s Pure Flix’s faith-based film “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” a spiritual successor to Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film about war hero Louis Zamperini and also based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand. Picking up where Jolie’s film left off upon his return from war, “Path to Redemption” shows Zamperini’s struggles with PTSD after years of torture as a POW and his conversion to Christianity after attending a Billy Graham revival. The film is projected for a $3 million opening from 1,525 screens.