The weekend box office could come down to a battle of the sexes as Sony opens male-driven Battle: Los Angeles and Warner Bros. targets the Twilight crowd with Red Riding Hood. Battle: L.A. is expected to win the weekend.
Hollywood is hoping the two films lure younger moviegoers, who have been conspicuously absent from the multiplex. It's one reason why domestic box office revenues in 2011 are so down.
There's also a new family offering -- Disney's performance-capture 3D toon Mars Needs Moms. But meek interest has prepared the studio for an especially poor opening. Most everyone believes Paramount animated holdover Rango will beat Mars.
On the specialty side, Focus Features opens Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Cary Fukunaga directed the critically acclaimed film, based on the classic novel by Charlotte Bronte.
Conservative estimates show Battle: L.A. winning the weekend with a gross of $28 million to $32 million. The sci-fi war pic is drawing nearly all of its interest from males.
In its marketing campaign, Sony has trumpeted the film's action and special effects.
Battle: L.A. doesn't rely on A-list stars but does have an ethnically diverse cast that includes Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan and Michael Pena.
Overseas, Battle: L.A. opens day and date in a handful of key markets, including the U.K. and Hong Kong. Domestically, the film goes out in more than 3,400 theaters.
Battle: L.A. cost $70 million to produce, including tax incentives from shooting in Louisiana.
Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried, is Catherine Hardwicke's first film since Twilight, and Warners has relied heavily on the director's name in promoting the film.
Box office observers are suggesting an opening gross of $18 million to $20 million for Red Riding Hood. That would be great start since the film -- opening in roughly 3,000 theaters -- cost $40 million to produce.
The dark fantasy, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Julie Yorn, was penned by Orphan scribe David Leslie Johnson.
Red Riding Hood is based on the well-known fairy tale -- only in this version, the wolf is a werewolf. Gary Oldman, Billy Burke and Shiloh Fernandez also star.
Battle: L.A. and Red Riding Hood are drawing especially bad reviews. Of the three new films, Mars is getting the best notices.
Mars cost $140 million to make, and is the final film produced by Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers Digital under its now-severed deal with Disney. Observers predict an opening of $8 million to $10 million.