LOS ANGELES — Tom Brady and Eli Manning are expected to light up the scoreboard at the Super Bowl, but don’t look for equally big numbers at the box office this weekend.
Three new movies will scramble for ticket sales as tens of millions of Americans will be tuning in Sunday to the biggest television event of the year. The found-footage teen adventure film “Chronicle” is expected to edge out the competition with about $15 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. Distributor 20th Century Fox, however, is predicting a far softer debut of about $8 million.
“The Woman in Black,” a horror film starring “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe, will probably lag behind with roughly $12 million. And “Big Miracle,” an environmental drama about the plight of three California gray whales, is projected to gross a lackluster sum of $8 million to $10 million.
Super Bowl weekend is traditionally slow for the movie business. Last year, it was the fourth-lowest grossing weekend of the year. Films that have fared well during the sports event have often appealed to tween girls, such as “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” or “Dear John.”
“Chronicle,” about three teenage guys who learn they have superpowers, is aimed at young males. The movie, which features a largely unknown cast, has earned stronger reviews than other films debuting this weekend. Fox spent about $12 million to produce the film, which has generated positive buzz on such social media websites as Twitter.
“The Woman in Black,” meanwhile, is CBS Films’ first release since last March, when it distributed “Beastly.” The film, a modern take on “Beauty and the Beast,” collected a modest $27.9 million at the box office. The studio’s latest picture has so far earned the most positive reviews of any of the six pictures it has released since early 2010.
The production was financed by the British distribution company Momentum Pictures for $13 million, but CBS Films paid just $3 million to acquire the movie’s North American distribution rights and is spending about $14 million to market it.
The horror film marks Radcliffe’s first turn as a leading man outside of the highly successful “Harry Potter” series, which concluded with its eighth installment in July. Now 22, the actor began playing the boy wizard at age 10, but only had time to appear in one non-“Potter” movie — the 2007 limited release “December Boys.”
Last year, Radcliffe had a well-received run on Broadway in the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and in 2007 starred in the classic stage play “Equus,” but it remains to be seen if he can attract more than just his young female fan base at the multiplex.
“Big Miracle,” starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, is based on the real-life 1988 rescue of three whales trapped under the ice in Alaska. Universal Pictures spent about $40 million to produce the inspirational drama, which is aimed at women and children.
Despite respectable reviews, it does not appear that “Big Miracle” will follow in the footsteps of last year’s “Dolphin Tale.” That Warner Bros. film, also centering around a troubled sea creature, became a surprise hit and ultimately grossed $72 million.