Testosterone-fueled The Expendables 2 -- featuring a who's who of action stars -- might not be able to match the $34.8 million debut of the first film, but it's still widely expected to win the weekend crown and bump The Bourne Legacy from the top spot.
By early Friday evening, Expendables 2 was trailing the first Expendables, which opened on the same weekend in 2010 and quickly transformed into a sleeper hit after grossing $13.3 million on its first Friday.
Estimates show Expendables 2 grossing $11 million on Friday for a weekend debut in the $29 million range. The film could catch up as the night and weekend progress.
From Lionsgate and Millennium Films, Expendables 2 has several noteworthy additions to its cast, including Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth and Jean-Claude Van Damme. And while Arnold Schwarzenegger made a cameo in the first film, he's featured far more in the sequel.
The rest of the cast includes Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews.
Lionsgate acquired North American and U.K. rights to Expendables 2 for $35 million.
Among the weekend's other new films, Focus Features' 3D stop-motion pic ParaNorman was off to a pleasing start, eyeing a possible $17 million to $18 million weekend. The family film -- produced by Focus and Laika, the team behind Coraline -- is opening in 3,429 locations, the widest bow ever for Focus.
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. Coraline, released in February 2009, opened to $16.8 million on its way to grossing north of $124 million worldwide.
New musical drama Sparkle -- Whitney Houston's final movie -- also was performing nicely and could gross north of $16 million for the weekend.
From Screen Gems, the remake of the 1976 film 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. Houston plays their mother.