Smurfs: The Lost Village, the third installment in Sony's animated franchise, took in $375,000 from 2,731 Thursday early showings starting at 5 p.m. But Zach Braff's Going in Style topped the animated film in previews, earning $600,000 Thursday.
The film is tracking to debut in the $15 million to $16 million range, according to projections.
Smurfs 2, which opened in August 2013, debuted to $17.5 million. (It earned $347.5 million worldwide by the end of its run.) The original film, The Smurfs, earned a huge $35.6 million in its domestic debut in 2011 and had a final worldwide tally of $563.7 million.
The new film centers on a mysterious map that sets Smurfette (Demi Lovato ) and her friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on a race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history. Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello and Jack McBrayer are among the voice cast.
Kelly Asbury (Gnomeo & Juliet) directed Smurfs: The Lost Village.
Braff's Going in Style also opens wide this weekend along with faith-based film The Case for Christ. However, all three newcomers will debut behind a pair of powerhouse holdovers: The Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast, both of which could earn in the high $20 million range.
Village Roadshow and New Line's Going in Style, directed by Braff, stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin as retirees who decide to rob a bank when their pensions go belly-up. The remake of the 1979 heist film of the same name is tracking to open to a soft $8 million.
The Case for Christ, an independent film distributed by Pure Flix Films, will likely gross $5 million to $6 million in its debut. The drama is based on the book of the same name, about a self-avowed atheist and journalist who set out to disprove his wife's newfound Christian faith. The Case for Christ stars Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway and Robert Forster.