Box office preview: 'The Town' battles 'Easy A' and 'Devil' for top spot | EW.com

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Box office preview: 'The Town' battles 'Easy A' and 'Devil' for top spot

ben-affleck-townThe fall movie-going season is about to begin, and Hollywood is already piling on the goods. Four movies will battle it out for the top spot this weekend, and any one of them would be lucky to hit $20 million. The one that’s received the most attention from the media and the talk show circuit is Ben Affleck’s The Town. Not only is the film getting good reviews (EW’s own Lisa Schwarzbaum gave the film an A-), but everybody loves a comeback story – and Ben Affleck 2.0’s is certainly a riveting one. In contrast, Easy A has young girls wrapped around its finger. Starring Emma Stone, this modern-day take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter – fashioned with dialogue reminiscent of Juno and Mean Girls – could be a break-out hit if those tweens show up. Devil and the animated flick Alpha and Omega have a more difficult battle to fight. Devil, from producer M. Night Shyamalan, features no big-name stars and a horror conceit that could easily be unraveled. Alpha and Omega, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have nearly enough marketing needed to turn on families during this busy back-to-school season. See below for me predictions.

1. Easy A: $18 million

Teen girls haven’t had something to sink their teeth into since Twilight. And while I’m not even considering comparing Easy A to the vampire juggernaut, I do think this PG-13-rated teen flick does have the ability to spark with its intended demographic. How high it gets is going to be predicated based on how many teenage girls are available for movie-going this weekend. If they love it, which I predict they will, then word-of-mouth could give the Screen Gems flick a hefty opening frame. It would also mean the Sony subsidiary scores its third No. 1 film in three weeks, after Resident Evil and Takers.

2. The Town: $17 million

Affleck’s got good reviews and good will on his side for his heist drama The Town. He also has a well-pedigreed supporting cast of Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm. Add in the fact that Affleck’s been making the talk show rounds, and it all should translate well at the box office. His opening weekend could get very close to the $20 million his first directorial effort Gone Baby Gone earned in its entire run. And it needs to: The Town’s audience gets very distracted next weekend with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opening and even more preoccupied on Oct. 1 when David Fincher’s The Social Network bows.

3. Devil: $13 million

Yes, Devil is an “M. Night Shyamalan presents” feature, the first in his Night Chronicles trilogy of films that he produces and others direct. It’s only PG-13, so it’s clearly not going to be a gore fest. And Universal hasn’t shown it to critics, which is never a good sign. My guess is it will have a decent Friday night, and if word-of-mouth is bad, it will disappear quickly.

4. Resident Evil: Afterlife: $10 million

Luring in $26 million its opening weekend, Resident Evil: Afterlife is on track to become the highest-grosser of the four films. Still, the R-rated zombie flick is likely to lose at least 60 percent of its value its sophomore session, in line with how the franchise typically performs.

5. Alpha and Omega: $9 million

It takes a lot of marketing muscle to reach family audiences, and Lionsgate doesn’t seem to either have the will or the cash. Plus, families are busy right now, so an animated release seems ill-timed. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m doubtful this flick – starring the voice talents of Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, and Danny Glover – will make much of an impact.

The limited release film pack is even more crowded this weekend. The social media documentary Catfish opens alongside Fox Searchlight’s Never Let Me Go and Overture Film’s Philip Seymour Hoffman flick Jack Goes Boating. Come back for box office results over the weekend.

Originally posted September 16 2010 — 5:22 PM EDT

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