Abrams’ ‘Super 8′ Enters Crowded Box Office Race

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The box office is looking to continue its summer rebound with the unknown quantity of Super 8 going up against kid flick Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer — and both looking to topple mutants, bachelors and animated pandas.

Super 8 is the third film directed by J.J. Abrams, and it tells the tale of a group of teens making a student film in 1979 Ohio who witness a train crash that may have otherworldly origins. Produced by Steven Spielberg, the film is being released by Paramount to about 3,400 cinemas. Anticipation is high in sci-fi fan quarters and among critics, though it remains to be seen if that can translate to a big box office payoff. Visual effects for the film are being handled by ILM.

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is based on the book series by Megan McDonald and is set to open at about 2,500 theaters courtesy of Relativity.

Both face stiff competition from holdovers including X-Men: First Class, The Hangover, Part II and DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2. They also have even tougher competition next week, when Warner Bros. rolls out the heavily-marketed and much-anticipated Green Lantern, based on the classic DC Comics character.

The week after sees the next likely animated powerhouse, with the release of Disney-Pixar’s Cars 2.