Happy Friday the 13th, box office fans! And boy, I sure am scared. Seems Hollywood is following up one of the most unpredictable weekends in recent memory with one of the busiest. Yep, it’s out of the Grindhouse and into the fire, as a whopping six major new releases crowd multiplexes. With none of the fresh contenders playing on a remarkably huge number of screens and none generating blockbuster buzz, this weekend appears to be yet another frightfully tricky one to call. Certainly, the level of competition means that it’ll be hard for any movie to earn more than $20 million. And thanks to star power alone, the Halle Berry-Bruce Willis thriller Perfect Stranger seems to have a small edge over the rest. Then again, Blades of Glory is still skating strong and it could mount the medal stand for a third consecutive frame.
Really, though, the field is so wide open that a win by any of the following films would be considered a surprise of sorts. Kinda like last weekend, when Grindhouse tanked, taking the expectations of me and 73 percent of you with it. How do you see the big battle playing out this time around? Read on and then cast your vote below for the film that you think will emerge victorious.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Columbia · R · 2,661 theaters · NEW
The plot sounds awfully cookie-cutter: Halle Berry stars as a reporter whose murder investigation focuses on a suspicious rich dude played by Bruce Willis. And, Lord knows, the recent track records of these two actors aren’t much better than those of, oh, Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker: Willis’ 16 Blocks debuted with just $11.9 mil last year, while Berry’s Catwoman opened to only $16.7 mil in the summer of 2004. Overcoming that R rating will also be a challenge, so why the bleep am I picking it to finish No. 1? Let’s just say I have a gut suspicion that movie stars (even those who may not be as big as they once were) can still open movies, and that audiences are hungry for a fun, non-family flick. Quite simply: something different. Besides, in this crowded marketplace, Perfect Stranger won’t have to earn a whole lot to take the cake.
Weekend prediction: $16 million
Blades of Glory
Paramount · PG-13 · 3,467 theaters · 3rd weekend
With another slight 35 percent decline and $15 mil more in the bank, Blades will bring its domestic total to around $90 mil. Thus, it’ll jump past Anchorman ($85.3 mil) to land behind Elf ($173.4 mil) and Talladega Nights ($148.2 mil) as Will Ferrell’s third-best grosser ever.
Weekend prediction: $15 million
Paramount · PG-13 · 2,925 theaters · NEW
The thing to keep track of here is the drawing power of leading man Shia LaBeouf, who is basically headlining Disturbia alone (David Morse and Carrie-Anne Moss, when she’s not, like, in stretchy leather, aren’t notable draws). The 20-year-old rising star scored a strong $16.3 mil opening for 2003’s Holes, but how he fares with this more grown-up film (which is pretty much a teenage remake of Rear Window) will help us better assess his chances with Transformers in July.
Weekend prediction: $13 million
Meet the Robinsons
Disney · G · 3,238 theaters · 3rd weekend
With the next big animated flick, Shrek the Third, not opening till May, this 3-D cartoon should keep on keepin’ on for several more weeks.
Weekend prediction: $11 million
Are We Done Yet?
Columbia · PG · 2,877 theaters · 2nd weekend
Critics hated it; audiences took a shine to it. Nothing new there! The Ice Cube family farce has been holding on well, grossing around a million bucks per day during the week, so it’ll continue to give the finger to all those thumbs down.
Weekend prediction: $8 million
THE OTHER NEW RELEASES
Pathfinder: Legend of the Ghost Warrior
Fox · R · 1,720 theaters · NEW
The trailer for this bloody period epic makes it look like the woefully underrated Crichton/Banderas/McTiernan action fable, The 13th Warrior, as seen through the lens of Mel Gibson. Or something like that. In a way, ads for the flick (in which supercool stars Karl Urban and Moon Bloodgood tangle with vicious Vikings more than a millennium ago) look almost like a joke. And… also kind of cool. I dunno. Hard one to judge. The R-rated Pathfinder is only playing on a moderate number of screens, so if audiences are as conflicted about it as I am, the outcome won’t be so sweet.
Weekend prediction: $7 million
Chicago Pictures · PG-13 · 1,607 theaters · NEW
That strange episode where Eddie Griffin wrecked a Ferrari a few weeks ago sure raised awareness for this indie drag-racing flick, which doubles as a showcase for a previously unknown movie producer’s sports car collection. Not that that necessarily convinced anybody to go out and see it this weekend.
Weekend prediction: $6 million
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
First Look · R · 877 theaters · NEW
That strange episode where a bunch of suspicious-looking ads were planted all over Boston a few months ago sure raised awareness for this indie take on the cult Cartoon Network show, which doubles as a showcase for talking french fries. Not that that necessarily convinced anybody (outside of ATHF’s devoted fan base) to go out and see it this weekend.
Weekend prediction: $4 million
Lionsgate · R · 1,163 theaters · NEW
Talk about a slow burn: This drama about a D.A. (Ray Liotta) who tangles with a gangster (LL Cool J) has been simmering on the shelf for ages. It was produced way back in 2003 and first played at the Toronto Film Festival in 2005. So, you know, where there’s smoke…
Weekend prediction: $3 million
Which film do you think will be No. 1 this weekend? Vote in our poll below.