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After record-breaking run, Detective Pikachu looks to take down Avengers

Warner Bros.' "Pokémon Detective Pikachu" is looking to crack the case of which movie debut will finally top "Avengers: Endgame" at the weekend box office.

With a forecast range of roughly $50 million to $80 million plus for "Detective Pikachu," a continuation of the Pokémon media franchise, the new film could land tantalizingly close to knocking "Endgame" out of the top spot for the May 10 weekend. Forecasters generally expect "Endgame" to collect as much as $85 million in its third weekend.

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"Pokémon Detective Pikachu"
Source: Warner Bros.

Historical comparisons indicate that a $50 million plus start for "Detective Pikachu" would put the film on solid footing toward profitability. Previous titles like "The Angry Birds Movie" and "The Smurfs" each opened above $30 million and went on to net more than $100 million in profit, despite big budgets, according to data from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. For example, "The Smurfs" opened to $35.6 million against a $114.4 million budget, and it ultimately collected $331.3 million in net profit. "Pokémon Detective Pikachu" cost $150 million to make.

Critics were generally okay with the new live-action and animated crossover, leading to a 66% "fresh" rating for "Detective Pikachu" on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 10:30 a.m. ET on May 10. The movie's PG rating is still considered family-friendly but marks a departure from the franchise's usual G, driven in part by Ryan Reynolds' irreverent voice for the animated character.

While "Endgame" and "Detective Pikachu" are expected to attract the largest audiences, three films will go into wide release over the Mother's Day weekend, including the female-skewing "Poms" and "Hustle," which are expected to go head-to-head for the third- and fourth-place box-office positions.

Of the two, most forecasters give "Hustle," a female-led remake of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," the leading edge. Variety forecasts an opening range of $9 million to $14 million for "Hustle." Deadline predicts the debut will collect $12 million. BoxOffice.com is more bullish, giving "Hustle" a $15-million forecast.

Kagan compares that debut with other femme-followups like "Ocean's 8" and "Ghostbusters," as well as lady-led comedies like "The Heat" and "Spy." "Ghostbusters" was the outlier with a $63.2 million net loss, but the other four fared better. The 2018 dark comedy-thriller "A Simple Favor" opened closest to forecasts for "Hustle" at $16.0 million, and it ended with $20.8 million in profits.

However, where critics applauded "A Simple Favor," they mostly panned "Hustle," giving it a "rotten" 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 10:30 a.m. ET on May 10.

"Poms," a Diane Keaton comedy targeted at the older female crowd, was not doing much better, with a 30% "rotten" score. Forecasters generally expected it to open to $10 million or less: BoxOffice.com forecast an $8.4 million opening; Variety and Deadline predicted a range of $7 million to $10 million.

Kagan compares the film to other Keaton-led titles like "Something's Gotta Give," "Book Club" and "Mad Money," as well as some other titles geared toward the same demographic. That list of comparisons saw an average opening at $14.6 million and an average profit margin of 25.4%. However, 2008's "Mad Money," which opened near the forecasts for "Pom" at $7.7 million, landed in the red with a loss of $35.5 million.

Lastly, Disney's Fox Searchlight will debut biopic "Tolkien" about the early years of the author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." Bullish forecasts have the title barely cracking $5 million over the May 10 weekend, similar to biopic "The Theory of Everything," about physicist Stephen Hawking. "The Theory of Everything" went on to collect $49.4 million in net profits, but it was also riding on a strong critical reception. "Tolkien," by contrast, had a more mixed 47% "rotten" reception on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 10:30 a.m. ET on May 10.

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