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Prospects for 'Rings' looking a little scary

One of the hallmarks of a horror film is that the killer always comes back for one more scare.

So moviegoers, perhaps, will not be surprised the creepy little girl with long dark hair and serious mommy issues from "The Ring" has returned.

"Rings," which is being distributed by Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, takes the original premise of the series and updates it for the modern era. Whereas the first "Ring" film featured a cursed VHS tape, the third installment of the series moves the video online. Regardless of medium, the video still carries the power to kill anyone who views it.

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"Rings"
Source: Paramount Pictures

The movie, which has not been reviewed by critics, will benefit from its connection to a strong franchise name. But it will face several hurdles over the Feb. 3 weekend, including competition from Universal Pictures' "Split," which is still looking strong as it heads into its third weekend in theaters, and from the Super Bowl. As Shawn Robbins, senior analyst at BoxOffice.com, told Variety, the big game acts as "a big deflator," with theater attendance seeing a huge drop between Saturday and Sunday.

Variety expects "Rings" to earn an opening gross of $10 million to $12 million, a little less than half of its $25 million production budget.

Similarly, BoxOffice.com expects "Rings" to earn an opening gross of $10.5 million and to take a second seat at the weekend box office behind "Split," which the site expects to take in another $13.5 million over the period.

By comparison, "The Ring" in 2002 earned an opening gross of $15.0 million before going on to record a total domestic gross of $128.6 million and a profit margin of almost 39%. The sequel, "Ring Two," earned an opening gross of $35.1 million, a total domestic gross of $75.9 million and a profit margin of 23.1%.

Also opening ahead of the Feb. 3 weekend is "The Space Between Us," a romantic science-fiction film from STX Entertainment.

The movie tells the story of a boy who grows up on Mars but who falls in love with a girl from Earth. This saccharine premise does not seem to be playing well with critics, as the film had earned a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of 4:45 p.m. ET on Feb. 2.

A reviewer for The Seattle Times had one major problem with the film: "This movie is ridiculous."

With poor reviews, tough competition and a title that conjures a Dave Matthews Band song, "The Space Between Us" is not expected to do big business in theaters.

Variety expects the film to take in between $8 million and $10 million, while BoxOffice.com projects an opening closer to $6.3 million.

That would be a bit better than "About Time," another romantic film with a fantastical twist. "About Time" earned a gross of $4.8 million during its first weekend in wide release and a total domestic gross of $15.3 million. Due to its low budget, however, it was able to record a profit margin of more than 32%.

Although "Space" cost $30 million to make, according to Variety, it was originally produced by Relativity Media prior to that studio's bankruptcy. STX ultimately purchased the title and through foreign sales, tax credits and co-financing deals, was reportedly able to reduce its financial exposure to less than $3.7 million.

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