LOS ANGELES (USA TODAY) - This weekend will see Hollywood's most impressive winning streak go up against its biggest star.
Monsters University,the latest animated film from Pixar, enters the weekend as the boxoffice favorite, and will mark the studio's 14th consecutive film todebut at No. 1 if it takes the top spot.
But Monsters faces one of the steepest hurdles in the studio's 18-year history in Brad Pitt, whose World War Z will compete for young moviegoers' attention - and dollars.
And don't forget Superman. Man of Steel, which scored the highest debut ever for a film opening in June, enters its second weekend with considerable momentum.
Itadds up to a teenage moviegoers' dream weekend and a nail-biter forstudios, says Paul Dergarabedian, box office president of Hollywood.com.
"You have to give the edge to Monsters because there's just not that much out there for families," he says. "But this will be a horse race for a lot of observers. World War Z might win the battle Friday, but the kids always come back on weekends," which would give Monsters a comeback victory.
Analysts project Monsters should do $75 million, while Z would acquit itself well with $50 million.
Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com says that Monsters emerged as a favorite among tent-pole films by nailing down a lucrative corner of the market.
"Competition for younger kids is weak right now," he says. "So that segment belongs to" Monsters. "Older kids do have some other options."
Andthey've been exercising them. Despite overall ticket sales being down5% from 2012, summer box office has surged 13% over last year.
But history will be made, regardless of the weekend winner, Dergarabedian says.
Should projections hold true and Monsterswins out to preserve Pixar's No. 1 streak, "You're looking at somethingthat really hasn't been done in the modern era of cinema. They may bethe most consistently solid studio in moviegoing history."