Many distributors bemoan Super Bowl weekend as a deathly time at the box office, specifically when Sunday business can see a downturn of 65%-70% compared with Saturday. Last year alone, a historic 114.5M watched Super Bowl XLIX. However, the truth is that most audiences head to the cinema on Friday or Saturday during the Big Game weekend, with the No. 1 title typically clearing $20M or more. kfp3That’s what we’re seeing this weekend as DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s Kung Fu Panda 3 is planning to make $22M-$24M in its second go-round. In sum, there are worse weekends on the calendar such as the post-Thanksgiving and Labor Day frames.

As a family title, KFP3 also has the benefit of seeing a better hold on Sunday of -50% versus other titles. Under-25 fare is typically the best form of counterprogramming during a Super Bowl (the reigning opening B.O. champ for the weekend remains 2008’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best Of Both Worlds Concert Tour at $31.1M), and this Friday we have largely younger female/male titles with Screen Gems’ Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Lionsgate’s The Choice and Universal’s Coen brothers comedy Hail, Caesar!

pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies 1Pride And Prejudice And Zombies has the greater edge among the three entries, with a possible shot at No. 2 with $12M per industry estimates at 2,930 theaters (Sony thinks it’s much lower — in the single digits). Young females are the sweet spot, but there’s a decent male component here as well. Screenings for the genre hybrid have generated enthusiastic results. Cross Creek financed the $28M Burr Steers movie which stars Lily James, Jack Huston, Sam Riley and Bella Heathcote. Previews start Thursday at 7 PM at about 2,250 sites.

Hail, Caesar! marks the return of the Coens after 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s a light channing tatumcomedic, yesteryear Hollywood romp, and the hybrid of The Hudsucker Proxy with a touch of Barton Fink is expected to bring in around $10M from 2,231. In its one-sheets, Hail, Caesar! has been sold off its all-star cast of George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill and Josh Brolin, though Facebook has been showing Tatum’s (the real B.O. pull here) sailor musical clip on a loop. Working Title co-produced. Hail, Caesar! will start previews on Thursday at 7 PM. It’s not common for a Coens title to go wide in its first weekend — their biggest FSS debut belongs to December 201o’s True Grit, which made $24.8M — but among titles that went wide during the first quarter of the year, their March 2004 entry The Ladykillers opened to $12.6M.

the choiceLionsgate is looking to lure the ladies to Nicholas Sparks’ latest feature adaptation The Choice in 2,600 venues. Once upon a time Sparks used to fly at the B.O.: Dear John had a leg up over the Super Bowl in 2010 when it opened to $30.5M and legged out $80M for its run. That film was further bolstered by Tatum’s star power, but he belongs to the Coens this time around. Lionsgate acquired The Choice for about $10M. Industry figures have this in the high single digits up to $9M. The last Sparks movie, The Longest Ride, opened last April to $13M and stopped galloping at $37.4M. Thursday previews start at 7 PM.

Elsewhere, 20th Century Fox/New Regency’s The Revenant looks to make $7M in its seventh frame. Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens is looking at between $7M-$8M, while the studio’s period Coast Guard rescue pic The Finest Hours is looking at a second weekend of $5M per industry estimates.