Box Office Preview

Out to Sea

''Pirates'' still has wind behind it, but the raunchy comedy ''Knocked Up'' and ''Shrek the Third'' should be closing the gap

LOVIN' BLOOM Pirates figures to have the last laugh this weekend, even if Knocked Up is ''the year's funniest movie''
LOVIN' BLOOM Pirates figures to have the last laugh this weekend, even if Knocked Up is ''the year's funniest movie''

Ahoy again, seafarers! What a week, eh? Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End opened huge — but maybe not huge enough, scoring merely the fifth-best premiere in history. First, I called out Disney on their half-earned boasts about POTC:AWE's records. Then Sony, no doubt persuaded by my argument, followed my lead. Hoo-wee!

Well, anyway, while Disney and Sony keep at it, let's move on to this weekend, which features three major new movies seeking to sink Johnny Depp & Co. Yeah, lotsa luck there. POTC:AWE, while a tad disappointing in its debut, would have to drop something like 75 percent to fall out of first place, and that isn't going to happen. So the big battle will be for No. 2. And your big task (after reading this column, of course) is to vote below for the movie that you think will lead the pack of films left in the Black Pearl's wake.

THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Walt Disney · PG-13 · 4,362 theaters · 2nd weekend
As much as the angel sitting on my right shoulder keeps telling me to be nice to POTC:AWE — since, after all, its first-week domestic gross of around $170 mil would never drive anybody to walk the plank — the devil on my left shoulder keeps winning me over. So...I'm sorry, Captain Jack, but the fact that your three-day opening slipped down the rankings of all-time top openers, from fourth place to fifth place, when the final numbers came out on Tuesday (No. 4, Spider-Man, bowed in 2002 with $114.8 mil, while POTC:AWE made $114.7 mil) is yet one more disappointment for you. What's more, your soft mid-week grosses (well under $10 mil per day) portend a steep second-weekend drop.
Weekend prediction: $48 million

Knocked Up
Universal · R · 2,871 theaters · NEW
In case you haven't heard (or haven't yet gotten this week's print edition of EW, which hails Knocked Up as ''The Year's Funniest Movie,'' right there on the cover), this stands to be the comedy hit of the summer. It's from the same troupe that brought us The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and the raunchy laughs are just as bountiful. The film features hairy Seth Rogen as a stoner lunk who, in a rare moment away from soaking in the magnificence of Adult Swim, accidentally impregnates the lovely Katherine Heigl. Critical praise is high, word of mouth will be strong, and the future for this film looks mighty bright. Or does it? There are two big caveats to consider here. One is star power: Seth Rogen is a terrifically funny dude, but he's not a hugely popular A-lister like, say, Vince Vaughn. The other is the movie's rating and genre: There seems to be a limit to how much an R-rated comedy can earn in one weekend. For example, The 40-Year-Old Virgin debuted with $21.4 mil and Wedding Crashers bowed at $33.9 mil. Then again, Borat did just swell in its debut, earning $26.5 mil in 837 locations. One thing is for sure: Knocked Up is gonna be laughing all the way to the sperm bank.
Weekend prediction: $29 million

Shrek the Third
Paramount · PG · 4,109 theaters · 3rd weekend
The folks at Paramount and DreamWorks Animation owe Disney and Sony a huge thank-you for stealing all the attention away from Shrek 3's woeful 56 percent drop last weekend. This franchise fantasy flick seems to be running out of steam faster than expected.
Weekend prediction: $26 million

Spider-Man 3
Columbia · PG-13 · 3,402 theaters · 5th weekend
That whole dispute with Disney aside, I just want to give some long-overdue props to the marketing mavericks at Sony for releasing a franchise film with no fricking colon in the title. I'm sure that, considering current trends, they were tempted to call this one, oh, Spider-Man: Too Many Villains and the Inexplicable Black Goo From Outer Space. But, while accurate, that mouthful just doesn't beat the simplicity of Spider-Man 3. Now, if the movie can make it to $350 mil domestically, I'll be doubly impressed.
Weekend prediction: $8 million

Mr. Brooks
MGM · R · 2,453 theaters · NEW
A killer thriller starring Kevin Costner, William Hurt, and Demi Moore — what is this, 1989? I mean, do folks even know who any of these actors are anymore? If so, do they care about them? Is anybody going to show up in spite of some pretty rough reviews (as of Thursday, the film had a sorry 39 out of 100 score on Metacritic.com). And will costar Dane Cook ever be a big movie draw? Um, no, I don't think so, and certainly not at this rate!
Weekend prediction: $6 million

THE OTHER NEW RELEASE

Gracie
Picturehouse · PG-13 · 1,164 theaters · NEW
It's been a while since we last heard from the Shue Siblings, but here they are, appearing in a heartwarming drama about a girl (Carly Schroeder) who plays on the boys' soccer team. It's based on Elisabeth and Andrew's experiences growing up. Which reminds me of the huge crush I had on Elisabeth Shue along my journey to manhood (I know everyone loves Karate Kid and Adventures in Babysitting, but I'm still partial to Cocktail, not gonna lie). So I'm psyched to see this under-publicized indie. Unfortunately, I'm not sure anybody else is.
Weekend prediction: $2 million

Box Office Poll

Originally posted May 31, 2007
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