Hollywood 2015: Which Studios Score, How and Why

The opening of Adam Sandler comedy Pixels is heading for a moderate $25 million opening weekend in the U.S., comfortably ahead of teen romance Paper Town but trailing superhero holdover Ant-Man.

According to projections, Disney and Marvel’s “Ant-Man” could notch its second first-place finish. The tentpole appeared headed for a decline of about 54% for a finish of about $26 million, which would give it a 10-day total of $107 million.

Sony’s “Pixels” is on track for roughly $10 million at 3,723 locations on its opening day, leaving it in line with recent projections in the mid-20s.

Directed by Christopher Columbus, “Pixels” portrays an alien invasion of Earth by classic arcade game characters such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede and Space Invaders. “Pixels,” which has been savaged by critics, also stars Kevin James, Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad.

Sony, which has had a tough year so far with “Aloha” and “Chappie,” has had only one release hit $100 million domestically at the box office since last summer (“The Equalizer”). It might break even with “Pixels,” which carries an $88 million pricetag.

Friday estimates for “Paper Towns,” starring Natt Wolff and Cara Delevingne, were for a weekend in the $16 million to $19 million range at 3,031 locations. “Paper Towns” won the initial skirmish on Thursday night when it took in $2 million in previews to $1.5 million for “Pixels,” but its opening-day total looked likely to be around $7 million.

“Paper Towns,” based on the John Green novel, is a low-risk bet for Fox with a budget under $15 million. The film won’t come anywhere near last year’s stunning $48 million opening weekend for Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” — including $8.2 million from Thursday night previews

The Weinstein Co.’s boxing drama “Southpaw,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, appeared likely to open with about $15 million at 2,772 sites following an opening day of about $5.5 million. Gyllenhaal stars as a pugilist on the rebound after personal tragedies strike.

Universal’s holdover “Minions” looked likely to finish in third with about $21 million — enough to push the animated comedy past $260 million by the end of the weekend.

The studio’s Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck” will be battling “Paper Towns” and “Southpaw” for the fourth slot at about $16 million.

Insiders said it’s unclear if Thursday night’s tragic theater shootings in Louisiana during a “Trainwreck” screening would hold down business during the weekend. “All of us at Universal Pictures send our heartfelt sympathies to the victims of this senseless tragedy and their families in Louisiana,” the studio said in a statement.