Steve Martin and Queen Latifah will bring down the competition at the box office, as their comedy ''Bringing Down the House'' hits theaters this weekend.
The movie, about an uptight lawyer (Martin) who mistakenly agrees to a blind date with a convict (Latifah), may sound a bit ''Bulworth''-esque, but, coming out two weeks before the Academy Awards, it has timing on its side. Martin is this year's Oscar host and Latifah is a supporting-actress nominee for ''Chicago.'' Certainly millions of fans are eager to see this odd couple in action. ''House'' could shack up with an $18 million debut.
The weekend's other new wide release is ''Tears of the Sun,'' a Navy SEAL action film starring Bruce Willis. Though its genre, its star, and its director (''Training Day'''s Antoine Fuqua) will draw young male fans, the movie's title is bland and completely nondescriptive (in other words, it's no ''Black Hawk Down''). That shortcoming will limit its box office take somewhat. Expect ''Tears'' to open with about $16 million.
After two weeks at No. 2, the buddy comedy ''Old School'' should slip to third place with about $9 million, a drop of 35 percent. Meanwhile, last week's top film, Jet Li and DMX's ''Cradle 2 the Grave,'' should decline 50 percent to $8 million.
The last spot in the top five will go to one of two returning favorites: Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey's romance ''How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,'' or Oscar frontrunner ''Chicago,'' which will both gross about $7 million this weekend. That means Latifah could have two films in the top five. All hail the Queen!