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‘Focus’ Is Expected To Top ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ‘Lazarus Effect’

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By Saba Hamedy

Los Angeles Times

(TNS)

LOS ANGELES — Christian Grey has some competition at the domestic box office this weekend.

Warner Bros.’ “Focus,” starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, is expected to push Universal Pictures’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” out of the top spot.

The R-rated romantic crime comedy, which cost about $50 million to make, could debut to up to $22 million in the United States and Canada, according to people familiar with pre-release audience surveys.

Meanwhile, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which dropped more than 70 percent in ticket sales in its second weekend, is expected to add $11 million to $12 million. Its domestic haul to date is $133.3 million.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and based on E.L. James’ erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey” follows billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his demure love interest Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).

The film, which cost about $40 million to make, debuted to $94.4 million over the four-day Valentine’s Day/ Presidents Day weekend, making headlines for its record-setting numbers and risque storyline.

“Focus” marks Smith’s return to the big screen after his “After Earth” flopped in June 2013. The $135 million Sony sci-fi flick, which co-starred Smith’s son Jaden, opened to a paltry $27 million and went on to gross just $60.5 million domestically. It did well overseas, however, generating $183.3 million.

Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid Love”), “Focus” follows a con artist named Nicky (Smith) who trains and eventually falls for Jess (Robbie). After they break up, three years later, they reunite in Buenos Aires while both are there to con the same billionaire.

Fandango, the nation’s largest online ticket company, said Wednesday that the upcoming film was leading ticket sales on its site. It is the best advance ticket sales for a Smith-led film since “Men in Black 3” in 2012.

Fellow newcomer “The Lazarus Effect” is likely to launch with $12 million to $14 million. The low-budget horror film was co-produced by Blumhouse, the company behind the “Purge” franchise, and Mosaic, for just $5 million. Relativity Studios acquired it for $3.3 million.

The film follows a group of researchers led by Frank (Mark Duplass) and fiancee Zoe (Olivia Wilde) who discover how to bring the dead back to life. It is tracking well among 25-to-35-year-olds.

Meanwhile, fresh off its Oscar wins, “Birdman” will take flight in 1,000 additional theaters.

Focus Features will roll out “Maps to the Stars,” starring Julianne Moore and Robert Pattinson, in 50 theaters. Also in limited release, Roadside Attractions will distribute war drama “ ‘71” and Radius-TWC will launch action thriller “Everly.”

©2015 Los Angeles Times

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‘Focus’ Is Expected To Top ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ‘Lazarus Effect’