B.O. ANALYSIS: Come on, ‘Irene’

Jim Carrey should be the personality splitting most of this weekend’s box office.

Carrey and 20th Century Fox’s R-rated comedy “Me, Myself & Irene,” about a schizoid Rhode Island motorcycle cop, should speed into first place at 3,016 theaters with about $25 million.

“Among opening and released films, it has a 27 percent first choice,” explains an insider. “It’s 36 percent for males under 25 and 20 percent for males over 25. It’s 31 percent for females under 25 and 23 percent for females over 25. So it’s definitely young males.”

A $25 million launch, this source says, “isn’t the ‘Liar Liar‘ opening, but I don’t think it has the heat that ‘Liar Liar‘ had.” That Jim Carrey comedy opened via Universal to $31.4 million the weekend of March 21-23, 1997.

Should Fox be unhappy with a $25 million opening? “No,” replies this insider. “$25 million is a huge opening. Who would be unhappy with a $25 million opening? Expectations are getting ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with a $25 million opening.”

“It’s rated R, so they can say that’s why they didn’t open as big as ‘Big Daddy,’ which opened to $40 million, or (the sequel) ‘Austin Powers,’ which opened to (over) $50 million,” another studio source says. “But even with the R rating, I would certainly think they should be somewhere north of $30 million. That’s just not what the tracking is indicating.”

DreamWorks’ opening of its G-rated animated feature “Chicken Run” should be cooped up in second place, opening at 2,491 theaters. The film will add 300 to 400 more theaters June 30 in time for the July Fourth weekend.

Chicken” got started Wednesday (6/21) at 6 theaters in New York and Los Angeles, with a very encouraging gross of a little over $47,000. Its early launch in New York and L.A. was designed to attract media attention in the country’s top two markets and also to provide DreamWorks with review quotes for its ads. Those notices appear to be very favorable and should be helpful in marketing the movie.

“It’s a 9 percent first choice among opening and released films,” says a distribution executive, pointing out that tracking scores for animated films are sometimes misleadingly low. “It could be the number two film and do $15-18 million. The reviews are very good, and there’s definitely an interest on parents’ parts to take their kids to see it.”

Paramount’s R-rated urban appeal remake “Shaft” is still looking good in the tracking with an overall 19 percent first-choice score.

“This tracking indicates it could be the number two film,” a distributor comments. “I don’t think so. I think that a family film like ‘Chicken Run‘ can sneak in there, (but) it could be a tight race between the two of them.”

A 40 percent drop for “Shaft” from its $21.7 million opening would give it about $13 million in its second weekend.

Buena Vista/Touchstone’s PG-13-rated action thriller “Gone In 60 Seconds” should fall two pegs to fourth place in its third weekend.

“They could easily be down another 40 percent,” predicts one observer. If so, last weekend’s $14.9 million would drop to about $9 million.

“‘M:I-2’ and ‘Big Momma’s House‘ are probably both in the neighborhood of $7 million,” a studio source says.

20th Century Fox’s PG-13 comedy “Big Momma’s House” was third with $11.7 million last weekend. With $71 million-plus already in, it’s heading for $90 million domestically.

Paramount’s PG-13 blockbuster action adventure sequel “Mission: Impossible 2” was fourth last weekend with $11.4 million. It already has done over $176 million and is on its way to $210-220 million in domestic theaters.

20th Century Fox’s PG-rated animated sci-fi feature “Titan A.E.” and Dimension Films’ PG-13-rated teen appeal romantic comedy “Boys and Girls” are both heading lower on the chart.

“‘Titan A.E.’ is in free-fall,” a distributor claims. “On Monday night, when ‘Boys and Girls‘ was down only 36 percent from Sunday because kids are out of school and young girls went to see it, ‘Titan‘ was down like 65 percent, just like the adult movies were. They’re not buying it.”

Filling out lower rungs this weekend: “Gladiator,” “Dinosaur” and “Road Trip.”

On the limited release front: USA Films’ R-rated drama “Boricua’s Bond” opens in New York. It’s the story of a young artist struggling with his family, friends and the violent streets of the South Bronx.

Looking ahead, an executive points out, Columbia and Centropolis Entertainment’s “The Patriot,” opening June 28 at 3,000-plus theaters, is a 16 percent first choice. Warner Bros.’ “The Perfect Storm,” opening June 30 at well over 3,000 theaters, is an 11 percent first choice.

Those tracking scores are bound to increase as the films’ openings get closer. Insiders believe that when people are asked in tracking research what film they plan to see first, “Patriot” has an advantage because of Mel Gibson’s star power.