Box office preview: Sequel showdown

Here’s an interesting conundrum: This weekend we have two sequels opening wide — 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2. Both of the first films did well critically and at the box office, and both sequels are pretty much guaranteed a terrific debut and a healthy life thanks to the enormously positive reviews. They’re even tracking similarly, with analysts predicting openings in the $50 million to $60 million range.

But, in this box office horse race, there has to be a winner, even if in this case second place isn’t going to be bad. At all. We could be lame and call it a tie, but what would be the point of that?

Here’s how things might play out:

1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — $55 million
After a number of box office disappointments, including Mr. Peabody & Sherman, DreamWorks Animation is bound to finally have another hit on their hands with How to Train Your Dragon 2. The first film opened to $43 million in 2010 and went on to gross $494.9 million worldwide. Twentieth Century Fox is distributing the PG-rated sequel, which analysts say could open in the $60 million range. Critics love it too. It currently has a fantastic 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. EW’s Joe McGovern gave it a B, writing: “While the original movie benefited from narrative simplicity and an admirable lack of villains, this one paints the screen with too many characters and frequent diversions from the main story, but nevertheless serves up a bountiful and sugary feast for the 3-D-bespectacled eyes.” The pic also opens in 20 international markets this weekend.

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