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Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ Sharp Enough to Top Friday Box Office

Con man comedy heads for $20 million opening with horror film ”The Lazarus Effect“ on pace for half that

The Will Smith con man comedy “Focus” nabbed the No. 1 spot at the Friday box office with a $6.4 million first day for Warner Bros.

That knocked the sexy romance “Fifty Shades of Grey” out of the top spot that it’s held since it opened the day before Valentine’s Day. “Focus,” Smith’s first big-screen outing since “After Earth” bombed two years ago, should wind up with around $20 million for the three days. That’s at the low end of expectations for the $50 million R-rated heist tale, which co-stars Margot Robbie and was directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.

The same is true for Relativity Studios’ low-budget horror film “The Lazarus Effect,” which debuted with $3.8 million Friday. That projects to a roughly $10 million first weekend for the chiller from Blumhouse Productions, which cost $5 million to make and was acquired by Relativity for $3.3 million. 

The PG-13-rated horror tale starring Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde and directed by David Gelb is looking at fourth place for the weekend, behind “Focus,” “Fifty Shades” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

The Colin Firth spy spoof is on track for a third weekend haul of $11 million for Twentieth Century Fox, after taking in $3.1 million on Friday. It will be close for second, with Universal Pictures’ “Fifty Shades” in that same range.

“Birdman” was back in wide release, in what amounts to a victory lap for the Best Picture winner at last Sunday’s Academy Awards. The quirky comedy starring Michael Keaton brought in an estimated $522,000 from 1,213 theaters Friday, and will come in with around $2 million for the weekend for Fox Searchlight.

“Still Alice,” featuring the Best Actress Oscar winner Julianne Moore, cracked the top 10 for the first time. The drama about a professor dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease is on pace to bring in $2.5 million after a taking in $758,000 from 1,318 theaters for Sony Pictures Classics.

Audiences awarded “Focus” a “B” CinemaScore and typically tough-grading horror fans gave a “C-” to “The Lazarus Effect.” That’s in line with the critics, who have “Focus” at 56 percent positive and “Lazarus Effect” at 14 on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Moviegoers make be taking a breather after the Oscars and a busy January and February driven by “American Sniper” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The overall box office was running more than 20 percent below the comparable weekend last year when Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop” and the Mark Burnett Bible saga “Son of God” went 1-2 and took in more than $25 million each.

Nonetheless, the 2015 box office is more than 10 percent ahead of last year at this point and remains on pace to be the biggest ever.