With four new modest entries, led by Warner Bros.' Johnny Depp sci-fi thriller "Transcendence," tracking in the high teens, the Easter frame looks to be a repeat of last weekend's box office as Disney-Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and Fox's "Rio 2" vie for the top spot in the low-to-mid $20 million range.
The pair previously battled each another for the No. 1 spot, with "Winter Soldier" nabbing a winning $41.3 million over "Rio's" $39.3 million Stateside debut. Both films could fall around 40%, though "Rio 2" may fare better given its popularity with families.
"Winter Soldier" so far has amassed more than $170 million domestically; "Rio 2" nears the $50 million mark through Wednesday.
Other than "Transcendence," which Warners launches Friday at 3,455 locations, Open Road bows the comedy spoof "A Haunted House 2," alongside Sony's "Heaven Is for Real" and Disneynature's wildlife docu "Bears."
"Heaven Is for Real," the feature adaptation of Todd Burpo's religious-themed book, launched Wednesday with $3.7 million in wide release. Sony hopes the film can transfer solid word-of-mouth among the faith-based audience through Easter Sunday. Depending on how well it plays over the holiday, the pic could rival "Transcendence" for third place in the high-teens.
"A Haunted House," meanwhile, looks to gross between $11 million and $13 million, with "Bears" expected to gross around $6 million through Sunday.
"Transcendence," budgeted for a reported $100 million, needs to see decent business overseas to make up what is likely to be a soft start domestically. However, the high-concept film has been a tough marketing challenge -- Depp plays a scientist whose conscious is uploaded digitally after his death and becomes a virus. Wally Pfister, the Oscar-winning cinematographer of "Inception" and collaborator of Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut with "Transcendence."
The film has scored a dismal 15% on Rotten Tomatoes -- a difficult hurdle to overcome since adults will be swayed most by reviews.
"Heaven Is for Real," on the other hand, benefits from being more review-proof, with opening day audiences already giving the film an 'A' CinemaScore. The film has scored mostly mixed reviews with 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety's Justin Chang called the film "a bland, earnest yet appreciably restrained adaptation." The film cost just $12 million to produce.
In limited release, Radius-TWC launches horror-thriller "13 Sins," starring Mark Webber and Ron Perlman, at 45 theaters. Pic is already available on digital and video-on-demand platforms.
Related stories'A Haunted House 2â² Conjures Up ImprovisationBox Office: 'Heaven Is for Real' Amasses $3.7 Mil on WednesdayFilm Review: 'Transcendence' 2014 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLCCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun