Two very different newcomers are set to duke it out at the nation's theaters this weekend, with the family-friendly sequel to last year's surprise hit "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" going up against the fan-boy fantasy "Sucker Punch."
In one corner we have Warner Bros.' girl-powered "Sucker Punch" in 3-D from visionary director Zack Snyder, who had success in bringing both his Spartan-epic "300" and the hyper-kinetic "Watchmen" to the big screen.
Now, "Sucker Punch," with a stylish trailer that showcased the collective beauty of its female punch and the music of Led Zeppelin, should again have the fan boys _ and girls _ running to the multiplex.
Trying to prove that it's no wimp at the box office, Fox's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" follows the further exploits of Rodrick and Greg Heffley as they deal with the humiliations and triumphs of adolescent life. The original film in the franchise opened about a year ago and went on to earn $64 million domestically.
Look for both "Sucker Punch" and "Wimpy Kid" to gross in the high teens or low 20s.
America's newly-appointed leading man, Bradley Cooper, will see a modest drop for last weekend's No. 1 film, the mind-bending "Limitless" from Relativity Media, and likely wind up with around $12 million for the weekend. A surprisingly strong debut proved that "Hangover" favorite Cooper is a box office draw in his own right.
Paramount's animated "Rango" will enter its fourth weekend with continued momentum, earning another $10 million and eclipsing the $100 million mark overall after a second-place finish last weekend.
"The Lincoln Lawyer" from Lionsgate will likely round out the top five in the $7 million to $9 million range after generating strong word-of-mouth in its debut last weekend as demonstrated by an uptick of 37 percent from Friday to Saturday. Some of that may have also resulted from a unique arrangement with Groupon.com to promote the Matthew McConaughey vehicle.
Paul Dergarabedian is president of the Box Office Division of Hollywood.com and a longtime box office analyst for The Associated Press.