Watch out, ''Elf.'' There's a ''Cat'' ready to pounce on you. Mike Myers' film version of the Dr. Seuss classic ''The Cat in the Hat'' should leave family audiences purring in multiplexes this weekend.
Much like Jim Carrey's ''How the Grinch Stole Christmas'' three years ago, ''Cat'' combines a beloved comedian with Dr. Seuss' eye-popping visuals. And though Myers will have a hard time bringing in Carrey-style bucks (''Grinch'' debuted with more than $55 million), the family-friendly film should top the box office chart with about $30 million.
That will push Will Ferrell's smash, ''Elf,'' back down to No. 2 after a week at the top of the list. Still, ''Elf'' will likely see another tiny drop of about 25 percent to $20 million.
The week's other new wide release is Halle Berry's thriller ''Gothika,'' costarring Robert Downey Jr. and Penélope Cruz. The teenage and young-adult set is frothing for this one, which should result in an $18 million opening. Close behind could be ''Master and Commander,'' which should decline about 35 percent from its $25.1 million debut to about $16 million.
Rounding out the top five will either be ''The Matrix Revolutions'' or ''Brother Bear,'' which should each earn $7 million or $8 million. The last ''Matrix'' movie out of the top five in only its third week? As Keanu Reeves might say: ''Whoa.''