A ‘Brockovich’ Box Office?

Julia Roberts‘ “Erin Brockovich” won’t have to settle for less than first place in its second weekend. Julia Roberts After its big $28 million opening, the showy biopic should remain atop the chart, insiders say. Even if business fell off 30 percent, it’d still be pushing $20 million at the box office.

One observer had the Top Five stacked up this way: “Erin Brockovich” at No. 1; newcomer “Romeo Must Die” at No. 2; followed by “Mission to Mars” and “Final Destination” with about $6 million in ticket sales each, and the teen drama “Here on Earth” “probably” in fifth place with about $5 million to $6 million.

An insider said “Erin Brockovich” is showing up in tracking scores as the No. 1 film of choice by 35 percent of moviegoers.

“‘Erin”s been holding up fine. They did $2.3 million on Monday and $2.6 million on Tuesday,” observes a studio executive. “To be doing over $2 million on weekdays in March is very strong.”

One potential road bump is the Oscars. Sunday’s televised coverage is expected to cut into the film’s ticket sales since its adult audience is the most likely to be glued to their TV sets. As a distribution executive pointed out, “That’s why they opened the weekend before the Academy Awards.”

The hip-hop kung-fu movie “Romeo Must Die,” meanwhile, is looming as a muscular No. 2. The flick, starring Jet Li, opened Wednesday to about $4 million. Insiders say it should gross about $15 million to $17 million over the weekend.

“The fact that they opened Wednesday is going to take some of the heat off its opening weekend,” another insider notes. “I’m guessing they’re mid-to-high teens for the weekend.”

The prognosis isn’t promising for the weekend’s other wide openings — both teen flicks. “‘Here on Earth‘ and ‘Whatever It Takes’ barely have a pulse,” a distributor says.

One observer predicted that the comedy “Whatever It Takes” would probably gross about $4 million.

Expected to fill lower rungs on this weekend’s chart: “My Dog Skip,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “American Beauty” and “The Cider House Rules.”

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