Testosterone-fueled The Expendables 2 -- featuring some of the biggest action stars of the 1980s, along with Liam Hemsworth -- should have no trouble capturing the top spot at the domestic box office.
Lionsgate and Millennium Films are predicting a weekend debut in the low $30 million range, but more bullish observers believe the action pic could generate grosses of $35 million or more.
The sequel, with an ensemble cast that includes Sylvestor Stallone, Jason Statham, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, opens exactly two years after the original film took the box office by storm, opening to $34.8 million and grossing nearly $175 million worldwide.
Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews also star in the action pic, about a group of mercenaries who seek revenge for the death of one of their own by a rival.
Holdover The Bourne Legacy has a strong shot at coming in No. 2 in its second weekend unless new family entry ParaNorman overperforms.
From Focus Features, ParaNorman is a 3D stop-motion pic produced by Laika, the same team behind Coraline. Focus is releasing the movie in 3,429 locations -- its widest release ever.
ParaNorman, about a boy who must stop the destruction of his hometown by a witch's spell, is voiced by Casey Affleck, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick and Leslie Mann and should open in the $17 million to $19 million range. Coraline, released in February 2009, opened to $16.8 million on its way to grossing north of $124 million worldwide.
Older women are likely to flock to musical drama Sparkle, Whitney Houston's final movie.
From Screen Gems, the remake of the 1976 film of the same name stars American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Cee Lo Green, Cameron Ejogo and Tika Sumpter and is about three sisters who form a singing group in Detroit during the Motown era (Huston plays the mother).
The movie marks Sparks' acting debut and was directed by Salim Akil, who produced with his wife, Mara Brock Akil. TD Jakes, Debra Martin Chase and Curtis Wallace also produced. Houston was a driving force in bringing the movie to the big screen, and is listed as an executive producer.
Box office observers expect Sparkle to open in the $14 million to $16 million range.
The weekend's other new nationwide player is Disney's whimsical The Odd Life of Timothy Green, starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as a childless couple who dream up a 10-year-old boy. The live-action pic, directed by Peter Hedges, opened on Wednesday, grossing $2.3 million.
Timothy Green, appealing to women and families, should gross north of $15 million over the course of its five-day debut.
The specialty box office also sees a crush of new releases, including French film Chicken With Plus, which Sony Pictures Classics opens in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Other limited openings include David Cronenberg's Cosmoplis, starring Robert Pattinson, Compliance and Robot & Frank, starring Frank Langella, James Marsden and Susan Sarandon.