Gargoyles and demons? No problem. It's the local police who pose the biggest threat to Frankenstein's monster this weekend.
Lions Gate's (NYSE:LGF-A) I, Frankenstein may be the largest new release hitting 2,753 theaters tomorrow, but that hardly guarantees the $65 million action-thriller will be able to top Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal's reigning champion in Ride Along.
That's not to say I, Frankenstein doesn't have some promise. Sure, there's risk involved with repainting the iconic character as an action hero, but remember the film was financed and produced by Underworld franchise creator Lakeshore Entertainment, which simply left North American distribution and marketing in the capable hands of Lions Gate.
And you can bet both Lakeshore and Lions Gate have high hopes, especially considering even the lowest performer of the four Underworld films -- 2009's Underworld: Rise of the Lycans -- still managed a respectable $20.8 million weekend launch in January 2009.
Unfortunately, early indications for I, Frankenstein point to a mediocre domestic weekend tally in the $10 million to $12 million range. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say $15 million, tops -- and only then if I, Frankenstein manages to wow audiences and ensure positive word of mouth with a solid CinemaScore.
And the winners are...
Even so, that's still less than half the record-setting $41.5 million enjoyed last weekend by Comcast's Ride Along. The film earned an "A" and benefited from a big draw as the first time since 2012's Think Like a Man in which comedian Kevin Hart and director Tim Story joined forces. If Ride Along follows a similar second-week trajectory as its quasi-predecessor, that should put it in the $21.7 million range over the next three days.
Meanwhile, don't forget Comcast's heart-wrenching war holdover in Lone Survivor, which earned a solid second place last weekend with roughly $22.1 million. And while a typical third-week drop could make for a close battle for second with I, Frankenstein, note Comcast has decided to increase Lone Survivor's theater count from 2,989 to 3,160 based on impressive demand for the film. Of course, that's not a huge surprise when we remember audiences granted Lone Survivor overwhelming approval with a rare "A+" CinemaScore. As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if Lone Survivor manages to hit $15 million this weekend.
Finally, remember Open Road Films' first animated movie, The Nut Job, which secured third place in its launch last weekend with a better-than-expected $19.4 million cume. Assuming a reasonable 40% to 45% second-week decline, there's no reason The Nut Job can't gross another $10 million to $12 million this weekend.
In short, if I, Frankenstein underperforms even a little, there's a decent chance all three of last weekend's winners could pull off an upset over the newcomer in its domestic weekend debut.
Fool contributor Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.