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'Mr. Peabody' cruises to top spot at box office

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Sherman, voiced by Max Charles, left, and Mr. Peabody, voiced by Ty Burell, in a scene from the animated film, "Mr. Peabody & Sherman." (The Associated Press)

It looks like the dog days aren’t over, after all.

Fox-DreamWorks Animation’s “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” which trailed Disney-DreamWorks’ racecar actioner “Need for Speed” on Friday, is ready to take a bite out of the No. 1 spot with an estimated $22 million weekend reports Variety. The toon, after finishing in second place last weekend behind “300: Rise of an Empire,” grossed $5.5 million Friday, behind “Speed”s $6.6 million but should still take the checkered flag.

“Speed ,” which had been the favorite to win the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, is now on course for an $18.5 million opening.

The studio released the Aaron Paul-starrer at 3,115 domestic locations, including about 2,100 3D and 280 premium large-format screens. Both “Speed” and “Peabody” are available in 3D.

Produced for approximately $145 million, Fox’s “Peabody” earned $42 million in its first week and is based on characters from the 1960s TV show “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.” The animated canine pic is en route to overtake the company’s last film, “Turbo,” which grossed $83 million, disappointing domestically.

“Speed” took off Thursday with $1.1 million in late-night showings. The film, directed by Scott Waugh, is an adaptation of Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed video game series that has generated more than $4 billion in revenue. The first title was released in 1994.

The racer, which carries a hefty $66 million price tag, fared much better than DreamWorks’ recent misfires. “The Fifth Estate” and “Delivery Man” opened to less than $1.7 million and $8 million, respectively.

It’s unlikely that audiences — likely consisting of gamers, car aficionados and Paul’s loyal “Breaking Bad” fan base — will help the movie get a second wind when it faces off against Lionsgate-Summit’s YA adaptation “Divergent” next weekend. The movie could still launch a franchise though as it stands to go far in the overseas market, including China.

Lionsgate’s “Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club” not only performed softer than predicted, it’s gearing up to be the filmmaker’s second lowest opener to date (after “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples”) with $9 million to $9.5 million. Now showing in 1,896 locations, it took in $3.2 million Friday, including an estimated $180,000 to $200,000 on Thursday. Despite its impressive A- CinemaScore, the comedy came in far behind Perry’s last release, “A Madea Christmas” ($16 million opening).

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.-Legendary’s “300” sequel came in second by a hair Friday with $5.8 million, but will likely land in third place by Sunday. After muscling $59 million in its first week, the sword-and-sandal film seems to now be headed toward an $18 million weekend.

Another Warner Bros. pic, “Veronica Mars,” earned $1 million on Friday. Its midnight screenings at 95 locations brought in $260,000 on Thursday. The record-breaking Kickstarter-funded Kristen Bell-starrer opened in 291 theaters in North America and launched on video-on-demand.

Fox Searchlight’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” continued living up to its name with a $1.1 Friday haul. After expanding from four to 66 theaters following a record-setting per-screen average last weekend, it could make $3.7 million this weekend.

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