Box Office Preview

The Maine Man

Stephen King will wear the box office crown. The best-selling author's ''Dreamcatcher'' should outearn Gwynether Paltrow AND Winnie the Pooh

Morgan Freeman, Dreamcatcher | KING OF HORROR ''Dreamcatcher'''s Freeman is gunning for big box office numbers
KING OF HORROR ''Dreamcatcher'''s Freeman is gunning for big box office numbers

With the one-two punch of war and the Academy Awards gluing many of us to our TVs this weekend, box office receipts should suffer despite the release of four new films.

The most promising of the new crop is "Dreamcatcher," a horror thriller based on a Stephen King book and starring Morgan Freeman. That combination will certainly bring in some young male fans (though the film is rated R), but a TV campaign that leaves no clue what the movie is actually about doesn't help matters. Still, a $14 million debut seems likely. That would put "Dreamcatcher" neck and neck with the Steve Martin/Queen Latifah hit "Bringing Down the House," which should also gross about $14 million in its third weekend.

Two other returning films, the Frankie Muniz comedy "Agent Cody Banks" and the Tommy Lee Jones FBI drama "The Hunted," will likely occupy the third and fourth spots, each slipping 40 percent or so to $9 million and $8 million, respectively.

Rounding out the top five could be one of the week's three other debuts. Gwyneth Paltrow opens her low-buzz flight attendant comedy "View from the Top," Cuba Gooding Jr. and "Saturday Night Live'''s Horatio Sanz take a gay cruise in "Boat Trip," and Disney premieres its Winnie the Pooh kiddie flick "Piglet's Big Movie." With each of these likely to gross $7 million, it'll be a free-for-all for No. 5.

Originally posted Mar 20, 2003