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‘Neighbors’ expected to challenge ‘Spider-Man’ sequel at box office

LOS ANGELES – Universal Pictures’ $18 million “Neighbors” is expected to gross $35 million or more in ticket sales through Sunday in the United States and Canada, according to people who have seen prerelease audience surveys, though the studio says it’s projecting a softer debut of $25 million-plus.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the sequel to the 2012 franchise reboot starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, could haul in an additional $37 million to $40 million Friday through Sunday if it drops by about 55 percent to 60 percent from its $91.6 million debut last weekend.

“Neighbors,” the first R-rated comedy of the summer movie season, stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents who find themselves living next door to a raucous fraternity, led by a young alpha-male played by Zac Efron.

A $35 million opening would surpass the kickoff of last summer’s Rogen-starring apocalyptic laugh-fest “This Is the End,” which launched with $20.7 million in its first 3 days against the first weekend of Warner Bros.’ superhero film “Man of Steel.”

With anticipation building, ticket-seller Fandango said “Neighbors” is its biggest preselling R-rated comedy since the 2012 hit “Ted,” which grossed $54 million in its first weekend. Critical praise could help propel “Neighbors,” as reviews have been generally positive, indicated by a score of around 80 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday.

“Neighbors” marks the screenwriting debut of Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien and is the fourth comedy directed by Nick Stoller for Universal, coming after the “The Five-Year Engagement,” “Get Him to the Greek” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

Also opening this weekend is Summertime Entertainment’s $70 million 3-D animated musical “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” which features vocal talent including Lea Michele, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer and Martin Short. Distributed in the U.S. by Clarius Entertainment and based on the books by Roger Stanton Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, the film is expected to generate $12 million in ticket sales through Sunday.

TriStar Pictures’ PG-rated comedy “Moms’ Night Out” is poised for an opening of $5 million or less in 1,044 theaters.


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