Box Office Preview

Master of Puppets

''Shark Tale'' will outnet ''Team America.'' One thing's clear: The belle of the box office ball won't be ''Shall We Dance?''

Shark Tale | 'TALE' WIND ''Shark'' (featuring the voices of Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, and Will Smith) will still rule the pool
'TALE' WIND ''Shark'' (featuring the voices of Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, and Will Smith) will still rule the pool

Sorry, Trey and Matt, but the Shark Tale wave hasn't yet crested. Though South Park creators Parker and Stone's puppet spoof Team America: World Police is the weekend's big new action extravaganza, opening on more than 2,500 screens, we suspect its strident political satire (meting out gruesome ends to famous liberals like Tim Robbins and Janeane Garofalo), its irreverent take on the War on Terror, and its R rating will limit its audience. Rival Shark Tale, after three weeks, isn't exactly fresh, but if the all-ages crowd pleaser drops another 40 percent from last weekend's take, the fish 'toon will still net some $19 million, enough to edge out a projected $18 million opening for Team America.

On its second down, high school football drama Friday Night Lights is likely to earn about a third less than last week, scoring $13 million for a third-place finish. The weekend's other big new release, Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere's Shall We Dance?, has the middle-aged date movie crowd all to itself, but Lopez hasn't exactly had a ball at the box office in her recent outings (it'll be a while before fans forget Gigli), and the movie's only opening on 1,400 screens, so it's likely to waltz away with only about $7 million. That might not even be good enough for fourth place. Joaquin Phoenix's Ladder 49 hasn't set the box office on fire, but even if it drops 40 percent this weekend, it'll still add more than $8 million to its take, enough for J. Pho to outshine J. Lo.

Originally posted Oct 14, 2004