Hey ”Along Came Polly,” you’re about to be Punk’d. Ashton Kutcher should topple Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston from their box office perch with the release of ”The Butterfly Effect.”
”Effect,” a freaky supernatural thriller, will benefit immensely from Kutcher’s burgeoning star power and a huge amount of prerelease buzz, including a high-profile premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Expect young fans of both genders to fly to theaters, allowing ”Butterfly” to spread its wings with a debut in the $23 million range.
Kutcher’s costar on ”That ’70s Show,” Topher Grace, also has a new film this weekend, ”Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!,” a romantic comedy that marks hit first leading film role. Also featuring ”Blue Crush” breakout Kate Bosworth and ”Las Vegas” star Josh Duhamel, the comedy with the adorable concept – West Virginia checkout girl wins a date with her favorite movie star, only to find out her best friend at home is in love with her – is likely to scare some testosterone-fueled fans away. But gaggles of girls with flock to it, resulting in a $10 million opening.
Last week’s top film, ”Along Came Polly,” should slip one place to No. 2, falling about 40 percent to $16 or $17 million, while ”Big Fish” and ”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” will battle it out for fourth place with about $7 million each. ”Torque,” meanwhile, will quickly shift into a much lower gear as it falls out of the top five.