Box Office Preview

'Spartans': Tougher Than 'Rambo'?

''Cloverfield,'' ''27 Dresses,'' and Sly Stallone's sequel likely will fall prey to the power of the spoof

Meet the Spartans | MEET THE SPARTANS Will the epic-saga spoof, starring Ken Davitian ( Borat ), smash the competition?
MEET THE SPARTANS Will the epic-saga spoof, starring Ken Davitian (Borat), smash the competition?

What's in store for this weekend, box office fans? Well, hefty holdovers Cloverfield and 27 Dresses will match up against four major new contenders, including Meet the Spartans (which spoofs 300, among other recent pop cultural phenomena) and Rambo.

Oh, and how about those Oscar nominations on Tuesday? Big surprises, eh? Nah, I know, not really. And as far the box office is concerned, many of the films with the most nominations are indie flicks that have pretty much played out (there's a little juice left in Atonement, Juno, and There Will Be Blood, I guess, but not enough to make a significant impact on my rankings below). Best Picture candidates Michael Clayton and No Country for Old Men will be getting fresh expansions this weekend, but I'm pretty sure everyone who wanted to see those movies has done so by now (and, if memory serves, not too many people wanted to see Michael Clayton in the first place).

Anyway, this one's a bit of a nutty frame, so if you disagree with any of my picks — or, hell, if you agree with them — cast your own vote for who'll be No. 1 in our very own EW.com Box Office Poll.

THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE

Meet the Spartans
Fox · PG-13 · 2,605 theaters · NEW
The folks over at 20th Century Fox have quite an impressive little thing going here: Since the slowing of the Scary Movie franchise, that studio has virtually cornered the market on spoof flicks, and they've banked a lot of bucks in the process. Two years ago, Date Movie debuted with $19.1 mil, and last year Epic Movie opened to $18.6 mil. The only reason that this film may not do just as well is if the same folks who turned out in record numbers to see 300 last year may be reluctant to turn out now to laugh at it. But I doubt that.
Weekend prediction: $19 million

Cloverfield
Paramount · PG-13 · 3,411 theaters · 2nd weekend
As you may have heard, Cloverfield opened to record numbers of its own over the weekend: the biggest three-day January premiere ($40.1 mil) and the biggest four-day MLK weekend bow ($46.1 mil) ever. Which is all great news and portends a bright future for the fright flick...except when you consider that the movie got a lowly C grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore and the backlash has begun. The result: a steep decline, in excess of 50 percent.
Weekend prediction: $17 million

27 Dresses
Fox · PG-13 · 3,074 theaters · 2nd weekend
What can I say? Her poorly reviewed rom-com banked an impressive $23 mil in its opening last weekend. Looks like Katherine Heigl might be here to stay.
Weekend prediction: $14 million

Rambo
Lionsgate · R · 2,751 theaters · NEW
I'm lowballing my estimate on this movie, even though many of my fellow prognosticators think it could win the weekend (hey, things worked out well the last time I broke from the pack), and even though, I suppose, it's the ''biggest'' new release. Why? Well, two reasons. One, I mean, What the hell? A new Rambo movie? Gimme a break. If somebody told me that a spoof film was opening today, I'd have though it was this one, not Meet the Spartans. I can't imagine that many people still care about this antique action hero (who spills blood in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, this time around). And two, the last time Sylvester Stallone resurrected one of his old characters, in 2006's Rocky Balboa, he scored a relatively soft opening of $12.2 million. Sure, that movie debuted in the competitive holiday season, but this week is pretty darn crowded, too. What's more, Rocky Balboa was rated PG, while this film's much more exclusive R rating could keep some fans away.
Weekend prediction: $13 million

Untraceable
Screen Gems · R · 2,368 theaters · NEW
The picture-perfect Diane Lane stars with Colin Hanks in a movie about this scary thing called the Internet! Where predators lurk! And where tech-savvy web wizards work their magic to solve crimes! Good Lord, what is this, 1995? Where's Sandra Bullock?
Weekend prediction: $10 million

THE OTHER NEW RELEASE

How She Move
Paramount Vantage/MTV Films · PG-13 · 1,531 theaters · NEW
I'll tell you how she move. She move only into about eighth place in the weekend rankings with this star-free dance drama that's playing in just 1,531 locations. That's how.
Weekend prediction: $5 million

Originally posted Jan 24, 2008
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