B.O. FORECAST: Super Bowl top attraction this weekend

Hollywood expects to be thrown for a loss on the box office gridiron this Super Bowl weekend.

Neither of the weekend’s two new wide releases is tracking well, according to distribution insiders.

“‘Eye Of the Beholder‘ is 3% first choice, ‘Isn’t She Great‘ is 2% first choice,” one studio executive said, referring to mid-week tracking data. “I really liked the trailer for (‘Great’), but I guess it doesn’t matter. It has zero unaided awareness. Nobody cares.”

Great,” opening via Universal at about 750 theaters, is an R-rated drama about the life of best-selling author Jacqueline Susann. Directed by Andrew Bergman, it stars Bette Midler and Nathan Lane.

Beholder,” opening via Destination Films at 1,672 theaters, is an R-rated thriller written and directed by Stephan Elliott and stars Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd. Its story revolves around an intelligence agent obsessed with his very seductive prey.

“We’re going to have another weekend where everything’s in single digits,” the executive predicted. “Last weekend, everything was (single digits), and based on these numbers, neither of these movies is going to crack double digits. ‘Eye Of the Beholder‘ could be $5-6 million, and “‘Isn’t She Great‘ could be $4-5 million.”

The outlook appears equally bleak for the leading holdover films in the marketplace. Last week’s two top-grossing pictures, New Line’s “Next Friday” and Miramax’s “Down to You,” are both likely to tumble in their second weekend in theaters.

An indication of their weakness was seen earlier this week when last weekend’s third-ranking film, Universal’s “The Hurricane,” moved up to top-grossing status Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s getting good word of mouth,” an insider said, adding that it probably says more about how “Friday” and “Down” have slipped in ticket sales.

Directed by Steve Carr, the R-rated comedy sequel “Next Friday” was written by, stars and was produced by Ice Cube. It placed first last weekend with $8.01 million.

Written and directed by Kris Isacsson, the PG-13 rated teen appeal romantic comedy “Down” stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles. It came in second last weekend with $7.6 million.

Does Denzel Washington’s best actor (drama) Golden Globe win account for “Hurricane’s” rise?

“That could be,” the distribution expert said. “That’s probably the reason. Any time somebody wins, it gets publicity, and it reminds people about the movie.”

Asked if “Hurricane” could capture the top spot on the Super Bowl weekend chart, he commented, “I’d be surprised, coming off $6.5 million (for the prior weekend). Let’s say it’s only down 25% because of his win. That puts it at $5 million. If it’s down less than that, it’s $5.5 million.

“It certainly would put it in the mix with ‘Isn’t She Great‘ and ‘Eye Of the Beholder,’ but I have a hard time believing two new movies are both going to gross under $5 million — although the tracking’s very poor.

“But, yes, I guess there’s a chance. I think ‘Next Friday‘ is in there. Of course, the Super Bowl’s going to kill ‘Next Friday,’ and it will hurt ‘Hurricane‘ as well. Super Bowl hurts everything, but it hurts anything with a male audience even more.”

Directed by Norman Jewison, the R-rated drama “Hurricane” stars Washington as wrongly imprisoned boxing champion Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.

With the Super Bowl in mind, “Great” should be in a better position than “Hurricane” or “Friday” to survive the competition thanks to its appeal to adult females.

“Except nobody cares,” the studio executive reminded. “So it’s a bad weekend with the No. 1 movie (grossing) maybe, $5-6 million and then a cluster of movies like ‘Hurricane‘ and ‘Next Friday‘ and ‘Down To You’ right behind it.”

Filling out lower rungs on this weekend’s chart will be Columbia’s PG-rated blockbuster family comedy “Stuart Little,” directed by Rob Minkoff and starring Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki; Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment’s R-rated prison drama “The Green Mile,” written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan; DreamWorks’ PG-rated sci-fi comedy hit “Galaxy Quest,” directed by Dean Parisot and starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman; Columbia’s R-rated drama “Girl, Interrupted,” directed by James Mangold and starring Winona Ryder and Golden Globe winner (best supporting actress, motion picture) Angelina Jolie; and Paramount’s R-rated drama “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” written and directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett.

This weekend will see USA Films’ expand its R-rated period piece drama “Topsy-Turvy” into the top 50 markets. Directed by Mike Leigh, it stars Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner as the British opera-writing team of Gilbert & Sullivan.

Also expanding is Lions Gate Films’ PG-13-rated documentary “Mr. Death,” directed by Errol Morris, about an engineer specializing in the design and repair of prison gas chambers, electric chairs and lethal injection systems.

On this weekend’s exclusive front, Warner Bros. will launch “The Big Tease,” an R-rated comedy set in the world of celebrity hairdressing. Directed by Kevin Allen, it stars Craig Ferguson and Frances Fisher and will arrive at theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Fine Line Features’ G-rated Oscar contender for Best Foreign Language Film, “The Cup,” will kick off in New York and L.A. Directed by Khyentse Norbu, it is the story of Tibetan monks who attempt to have a satellite dish hooked up to the monastery so they can watch the 1998 World Cup.