Box Office Preview: ‘Puss in Boots’ and ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ Set to Conquer Markets

It’s an animation domination weekend — opening in 3,952 theaters in North America today, Dreamworks’ (NASDAQ:DWA) Puss in Boots is poised to win the domestic box-office race by a landslide, while The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn looks set to dominate the international marketplace.

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Puss in Boots, a spin-off of the popular Shrek series, follows one of the franchise’s most popular characters through the adventures leading up to his first encounter with the lovable green ogre. Paramount (NYSE:VIA.B) releases the film in 3,952 theaters across North America this weekend, of which 2,827 are 3D locations. The film, which has won glowing reviews, is expected to gross between $35 million and $39 million.

Meanwhile, The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg, is expected to open north of $30 million. Because the Belgian Tintin is more popular overseas, the film is being rolled out there first, and won’t debut in the U.S. until the Christmas holiday. Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Paramount are partnering on the project and dividing up distribution duties. The Secret of the Unicorn is one of two Tintin projects in the works — the follow-up will be directed by Peter Jackson.

Tintin began playing in previews earlier this week in the U.K., France, and Belgium before officially opening on Wednesday in those three countries. The film has already grossed nearly $9 million, including a record-breaking $4.5 million in France, where it could have take the spot for second-biggest opening of all time, just behind Spielberg’s Avatar. The 3D film opens in a number of other foreign markets today.

While it may not have a shot at the top spot, New Regency’s sci-fi thriller In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, could have a decent take this weekend, expected to open in the low teens. Distributed by Fox (NASDAQ:NWSA) and produced for $35 million, In Time is set in a society where no one lives beyond the age of 25 unless they can buy time. Understandably, the film is tracking best with the under-25 crowd, which has been largely absent at the box office of late.

Also opening this weekend is The Rum Diary, based on the Hunter S. Thompson novel and starring Johnny Depp as a journalist in Puerto Rico. FilmDistrict expects the film to open in the $9-$12 million range, boosted by the prospect of appealing to both die-hard Depp fans and followers of Thompson, whose novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was also adapted for the big screen.

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However, Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 3 has the best shot at the No. 2 spot this weekend because it is Halloween weekend, after all. The film opened to a record-breaking $52.6 million last weekend, and grossed $60.5 million through Wednesday.