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'Avengers' to take a hit from 'John Wick'

John Wick's dog will go down in cinematic history as the puppy that launched 1,000 hitmen.

After losing his wife, his car and his beloved pet in the first film, Keanu Reeves' super-assassin is back for a third installment in the action franchise. In the latest feature, Wick has a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail.

"John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum," distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s Summit Entertainment, is earning strong reviews and the franchise has a solid fan base. As such, it is widely expected to make a solid debut in theaters, giving it a strong chance of leading the May 17 weekend box office.

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"John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum"
Source: Summit Entertainment

BoxOffice.com expects the film to earn an opening gross of $44 million to $59 million, boosted by an A-list cast and "the incoming goodwill of the previous two films." Variety, however, is less bullish, forecasting an opening of $30 million to $35 million, while noting that an opening north of $40 million is a possibility.

If the third "John Wick" film performs at the high end of expectations, the movie may succeed in knocking Walt Disney Co.'s "Avengers: Endgame" out of the No. 1 seat at the weekend box office. The superhero juggernaut has fended off all of the competition for three weeks running and is expected to earn a May 17 weekend gross of $27 million, according to Variety. BoxOffice.com predicted a weekend haul of $36 million for the film's fourth frame, which would give it a total domestic box office gross through May 19 of $778.9 million.

One thing that may serve to boost the new "John Wick" movie is the positive critical response it has thus far garnered. As of 11 a.m. ET on May 17, the title had an 88% "Certified Fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com, with the site saying the film delivers "another hard-hitting round of the brilliantly choreographed, over-the-top action that fans of the franchise demand."

The first "John Wick," released in 2014, opened to $14.4 million and went on to record a total domestic gross of $43.0 million and a profit margin of more than 10%, according to data from Kagan, a research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The sequel, meanwhile, managed to double each of those metrics, opening to $30.4 million, grossing $92.0 million domestically and earning a profit margin of nearly 37%.

Also opening on May 17 are two other new wide releases: the family-friendly "A Dog's Journey" from Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures and the romantic drama "The Sun Is Also A Star" from AT&T Inc.'s Warner Bros.

"A Dog's Journey" — based on an adaptation of a book from the same author who wrote "A Dog's Purpose" — is not earning particularly strong reviews but is nevertheless expected to fare well with fans of the earlier film. "A Dog's Purpose" earned an opening gross of $18.2 million and a total domestic gross of $64.3 million before managing to net a profit margin of almost 10%, according to Kagan.

BoxOffice.com expects the new title to earn an opening gross of $7 million to $12 million, while Variety forecast a debut between $10 million and $14 million.

As of 11 a.m. ET on May 17, "A Dog's Journey" had earned a 54% rating on RottenTomatoes.com.

Critics have been similarly lukewarm about "The Sun Is Also a Star," which had garnered a 52% rating of RottenTomatoes.com as of 11 a.m. ET on May 17.

The movie — which stars Yara Shahidi from ABC (US)'s "Grown-ish" and Charles Melton from The CW (US)'s "Riverdale" — is hoping to appeal to teenage audiences. It is based on a young adult novel by the same author who wrote "Everything, Everything." The film adaptation of that teen romance earned an opening gross of $11.7 million, a domestic gross of $34.1 million and a loss margin of more than 7%, according to Kagan.

For "The Sun Is Also a Star," BoxOffice.com predicted an opening between $4 million and $8 million, while Variety forecast an opening range of $6 million to $12 million.

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