Box-office preview: Can 'Dear John' knock 'Avatar' out of its top spot? | EW.com

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Box-office preview: Can 'Dear John' knock 'Avatar' out of its top spot?

Avatar has now defeated Titanic in every milestone the great boat epic upheld for well over its decade in power. As the new king of the world, Avatar has every right to take its crown–and its nine Oscar nominations–and go quietly into the night. But will it? It’s held on to the top spot for a miraculous seven straight weekends, and with last weekend’s fall of only 10%, it looks like it can stay on top forever. That is, until it encounters the force of young, screaming teenage girls. Yes, Dear John looks like your typical sappy romance but don’t underestimate the power of the sap. It’s why Lifetime is a force on cable television, Valentine’s Day exists, and Hallmark is a $4.3 billion company. It also helps that Dear John sports Channing Tatum, Hollywood’s latest “It” guy who in the next two months will be in two movies based on Nicholas Sparks adaptations (he’s also in Disney’s March 31 opener The Last Song opposite Miley Cyrus). He’s done dance movies (Step Up), actioners (G.I. Joe), and now he’s taking on romance. Will he succeed? If the screaming girls at the premiere are any indication, the answer is already a yes. Read on for my predictions.

1. Dear John: $26 million
Most critics are not fans of this film, which stars Tatum and Amanda Seyfried as a young soldier and the college girl he falls for. But neither Sony, who’s distributing the movie, nor Relativity Pictures, which financed and produced it, are counting on critics to get butts in seats. Rather, this is all about the girl factor and they are expected to come out in some solid numbers this weekend. Especially considering it’s Super Bowl Sunday; What fabulous pre-teen wants to be stuck watching football all day?

2. Avatar: $25 million
It’s gotta fall 20% this frame. It’s outperformed every expectation for the last seven weekends but really, who hasn’t seen this movie by now?

3. From Paris With Love: $10 million
This R-rated actioner is the only other new wide release of the weekend and I think it’s going to be hit hard by the Super Bowl. The film stars John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an unlikely CIA duo who take on a notorious crime ring in the streets of Paris. Travolta has been lauded for his over-the-top performance but both the poor directing by last year’s springtime hero Pierre Morel (Taken) and the muddled plot have left critics dissatisfied.

4. Edge of Darkness: $8.5 million
I don’t think this Mel Gibson-starrer is gonna hold up. Reviews weren’t great and I doubt word-of-mouth is making much of a difference. I expect we’ll be forgetting about this film rather quickly.

5. When in Rome: $5 million
Disney’s first release of the year is sure to get pounded by Dear John but it should still grab a spot in the top five for the frame.

Also this weekend: Both Crazy Heart and An Education expand wider to take advantage of the Oscar nominations for the two films. Now perhaps they’ll be coming to a theater near you.

Photo Credit: Scott Garfield

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