Box Office Preview

Box Office: 'Max Payne' Takes Aim at No. 1

Mark Wahlberg's videogame adaptation leads a posse of four new films -- including ''The Secret Life of Bees,'' ''Sex Drive,'' and ''W.'' -- looking to shoot down two-time champ ''Beverly Hills Chihuahua''

Max Payne | MAX PAYNE Mark Wahlberg and Co., in dogged pursuit of Beverly Hills Chihuahua and the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend
Image credit: Michael Gibson
MAX PAYNE Mark Wahlberg and Co., in dogged pursuit of Beverly Hills Chihuahua and the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend

Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott — all casualties of the Chihuahua. Woof! Can anybody stop the box office's fall juggernaut, which has grossed nearly $60 million in two weeks?

Well, four new films will take aim this time around, and Mark Wahlberg's videogame adaptation Max Payne stands the best chance of defeating the dog. In the meantime, I'm going to take a shot at predicting the rest of this weekend's rundown, below, and you can, too, in EW.com's Fall Box Office Challenge game, killer.

THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE

Max Payne
Fox · PG-13 · 3,376 theaters · NEW
''Videogame adaptation.'' Ha. That makes me laugh. ''Adaptation'' — makes this sound like a movie version of a polite Evelyn Waugh novel, rather than a violent third-person shooter game. Either way, pedigree is pedigree, and that reason may be enough to turn Max Payne into a winner. After all, the great Wahlberg isn't going to fill seats on his own: His movies tend to debut to no more than $20 mil. No, the model here is the Resident Evil series, whose last two R-rated installments both opened around this time of year to $23 mil-ish takes. With a PG-13 label, this film stands to bank a bit more.
Weekend prediction: $25 million

W.
Lionsgate · PG-13 · 2,030 theaters · NEW
Perhaps you've heard about Oliver Stone's darkly satirical take on the life and times of one George W. Bush? Remember that guy? The one who was president before Obama/McCain? Yeah, didn't think so. While there's sure to be some interest from people who want to see what the director of JFK and Nixon has done with the life of our 43rd President (played by Josh Brolin), I'm not convinced that people will flock to see a film about a man on whom they've bestowed a staggeringly low 25 percent approval rating. (Don't forget: One big key to any successful movie is that it features characters people like.) Nor do I think that, after all those previous flops, folks will suddenly want to see a movie about, at least in part, the Iraq War. And then there's the teensy matter of whether anybody has any money to pay for a ticket these days.
Weekend prediction: $11 million

Beverly Hills Chihuahua
Walt Disney · PG · 3,239 theaters · 3rd weekend
Arf!
Weekend prediction: $10 million

The Secret Life of Bees
Fox Searchlight · PG-13 · 1,591 theaters · NEW
Not to be confused with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or Bee Movie or Bee Season or Akeelah and the Bee, this film is based on Sue Monk Kidd's blockbuster book about a South Carolina girl (Dakota Fanning, now 14!) who is taken in by a kindly beekeeper (Queen Latifah) after running away from home in 1964. The stellar, awards-wealthy cast also includes Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys, and Paul Bettany, which is impressive, indeed. But the real potential of any small drama is visible in the strength of its reviews, and so far they're not looking good.
Weekend prediction: $7 million

Sex Drive
Summit · R · 2,421 theaters · NEW
You'd think that movies with the word ''sex'' in the title would be like catnip to horny American audiences everywhere, but that's not always the case. Sure, Sex and the City was a smash last summer. And there was sex, lies, and videotape a while back...when we had videotapes. But The Opposite of Sex, Sex and Lucía, or Casual Sex? — not huge hits. No, if you want your film to be a blockbuster, you put the word ''wedding'' in its title. (Or, you know, ''Harry Potter.'') Anyway, point is, sans a truly sexy title — and with a no-name cast and a predictable plot about a shenanigan-saturated college road trip — this bawdy comedy isn't likely to get lucky at the box office.
Weekend prediction: $6 million

Originally posted Oct 16, 2008