Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and friends will destroy two little boys and a young starlet at the box office this weekend.
"The Expendables 2" is expected to easily top the box-office charts this weekend, with strong ticket sales of $35 million to $40 million, slightly higher than the $34.8-million opening of the first "Expendables" film two years ago.
The animated family film "ParaNorman" should debut to half as much, around $18 million for the weekend. That's about the same as family fable "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," which debuted Wednesday, should do in its first five days in theaters by Sunday, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
Meanwhile a remake of "Sparkle" co-starring the late Whitney Houston is expected to take in $12 million to $15 million.
The last "Expendables" was Lionsgate's second-highest-grossing picture ever at the time, ultimately collecting $103 million. Producer Avi Lerner's Millennium Films moved quickly to make a sequel, spending about $90 million on production. Lionsgate paid about $35 million for rights to release the picture in the U.S., Canada and Britain.
The sequel once again stars a coterie of aging action heroes, including Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis all join them this time in prominent roles, along with younger star Liam Hemsworth.
Though it was originally expected to have an opening virtually identical to the first film in the series, tracking surveys showed a jump on Thursday, leading some in Hollywood to believe it could outpace its predecessor.
The well-reviewed "ParaNorman" is the second stop-motion film from Oregon animation house Laika Entertainment. Like "Coraline," the new film was fully financed by Laika, which also paid for advertisements, and is being released by Universal Pictures specialty label Focus Features.
The 3-D picture faces competition for the family audience from "Timothy Green," although Disney's family fable is attracting more women and girls, while the horror-themed "ParaNorman" is geared more toward boys.
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" opened to $2.3 million on Wednesday. While reviews have not been great for the picture, which cost $25 million to make, opening-night audiences liked what they saw, giving it an average grade of A-minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
"Sparkle," meanwhile, is drawing interest mainly from adult women, particularly African Americans. The 1960s period picture -- about a young aspiring singer, her two sisters and mother with frustrated show-business dreams of her own -- cost only $14 million to make. That means an opening on the high end of expectations should be good for Sony Pictures, whose TriStar label is releasing the picture.
This weekend will mark the last during the summer with any high-profile movie releases. The backers of all four pictures are hoping that good word of mouth could lead to several weeks of strong box-office results, as there are few new movies backed by sizable marketing campaigns hitting theaters until mid-September.