Will Russell Crowe be the master and commander of the box office this weekend, or will ''The Matrix'' be The One again? We'll know on Sunday.
Crowe's new epic adventure, ''Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,'' opens in approximately 3,000 theaters this weekend after mountains of hype (including the covers of Entertainment Weekly and Time) and fantastic early reviews (EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum calls it ''bracing [and] beautifully made,'' giving it an A-). Though the film's intelligence may scare away some younger viewers, Crowe's star power should result in an opening in the $30 million range.
All eyes will also be on last week's top film, ''The Matrix Revolutions,'' which debuted with $48.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period. A 50 percent drop seems likely, meaning a week-two gross of about $24 million. Close behind should be Will Ferrell's hit comedy, ''Elf,'' which may see a drop of only 35 percent from its $31.1 million debut, to $20 million.
Also opening wide this weekend is the family comedy ''Looney Tunes: Back in Action,'' starring Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, and Steve Martin. The combination of classic cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and live-action stars will prove irresistible to kids of all ages, who should turn out to the ''Tune'' of $15 million. That would edge out Disney's animated hit ''Brother Bear,'' which will fall about 30 percent to $13 million.
Opening in only about 800 theaters is the new documentary ''Tupac: Resurrection,'' featuring interviews with the late rap star. Audience interest among the under-25 crowd is huge, so it should open with about $9 million despite the low theater count. More than seven years after his death, Shakur seems as popular as ever.