After last week's record-breaking Easter, look for things to slow down a bit at the box office, as the short lull before the summer season brings only one new release with any real heat, the Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman drama ''High Crimes.''
Still, expect Jodie Foster to remain in the top slot for the second week in a row with ''Panic Room,'' which became her all-time best opening last week with $30.1 million. The thriller's B grade from CinemaScore means that a typical drop is in order. A 40 percent decline would result in another $18 million for the film, likely enough for first place.
Judd and Freeman have proved themselves a viable couple with ''Kiss the Girls,'' which debuted with $13.2 million in 1997. Now they're back with ''High Crimes,'' in which the pair work to defend Judd's husband (played by ''The Count of Monte Cristo'' star Jim Caviezel), who's been accused of a heinous war crime. Judd's stock has certainly risen in the five years since ''Kiss,'' so ''Crimes'' could acquit itself with about $15 million this weekend.
Two returning crowd-pleasers are likely to place third and fourth. The computer-animated smash ''Ice Age,'' in its fourth weekend, stands to fall another 35 percent to $12 million, while Dennis Quaid's hit ''The Rookie'' should fall only about 25 percent thanks to tremendous word of mouth, also to $12 million.
And rounding out the top five will probably be the teen draw ''National Lampoon's Van Wilder,'' starring ''Two Guys and and Girl'' cutup Ryan Reynolds. With a gross (in both senses of the word) of about $8 million, it'll certainly do better than ''Sorority Boys.''
That leaves the week's other new wide release, the Barry Sonnenfeld comedy ''Big Trouble,'' outside the top five. Delayed from its original September release date after the Sept. 11 attacks, the ensemble comedy, featuring Tim Allen and Rene Russo, hasn't amassed much buzz and looks to earn only about $6 million. At least the sharp Sonnenfeld will have a big hit three months from now with ''Men in Black 2.''
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