B.O. FORECAST: The Mel Spell

Move over, Grinch, for Mel Gibson is in the house.

That said, looks like Jim Carrey‘s “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will finally meet its match this weekend in the form of Gibson‘s romantic comedy “What Women Want.”

With a big opening (playing on 3,000-plus screens) and “The Grinch‘s” natural decline, Mel and his “Women” should be able to take the box office crown this weekend.

Here’s a look at the films opening this weekend .

“What Women Want”

THE SKINNY: After playing a stuffy revolutionary-type in this summer’s “The Patriot,” Mel Gibson switches gear in a comedy about a guy (Gibson) endowed with the ability to hear what women think. Helen Hunt plays one of those lucky females he mind-reads, and the cast also includes Marisa Tomei, Bette Midler and Delta Burke. THE UPSIDE: Pun intended: Women want Mel Gibson. And don’t just take our word for it: “I think ‘What Women Want’ is pretty much guaranteed the No. 1 spot. The star and the premise should be strong enough to carry the picture. It’s a high-concept movie, I say high teens to $20 million is quite feasible,” Brandon Gray, editor of boxofficemojo.com, told Hollywood.com. THE DOWNSIDE: ‘Tis the season not so jolly for the movies. Gray explains, “It very rare for a movie to have a huge opening at this time of the year, and that is what the film has going against it.”

The Emperor’s New Groove

THE SKINNY: Disney’s newest venture to regain the crown in animated features. This particular one has to do with a young emperor who fights to return to human form after he is transformed into a (yes) llama in an act of treason committed by his adviser. THE UPSIDE: It’s a Disney animated film. And everyone loves that! THE DOWNSIDE: Or, do they? Let’s not forget that recent Disney flicks — “Dinosaur,” for one — have not fared so well in the new animation game.

And then there’s “The Grinch.”

The Grinch” is its only competition, but that’s a behemoth,” Gray said. “I will place my bet in the low teens, less than ‘The Grinch‘ probably. It could be in the No. 3 spot, depending how ‘Vertical Limit‘ do. We have a bunch of movies here that are very close this weekend, including this one, ”Vertical Limit‘ and ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?‘”

Dude, Where’s My Car?

THE SKINNY: “That ’70s Show” hottie Ashton Kutcher and “Road Trip” and “American Pie” guy Seann William Scott are a couple of stoners a la “Beavis and Butthead” who wake up one day and can’t remember where they parked their car. And yes, the rest of the film is about them looking for it by retracing the night’s events. THE UPSIDE: It has got the dedication of a core audience, namely the type of boys embodied by lowbrow fare such as the “Bill and Ted” flicks, “Road Trip” and “American Pie.” THE DOWNSIDE: “There’s no indication that this would be another “Road Trip” and “American Pie,” but it’s certainly not going to be another ‘Whatever It Takes,” Gray says. “It could come within range with ‘Vertical Limit‘ and ‘Emperor.’ It’s definitely going to be in the Top Five, but which movie is going to do better is a flip of the coin. But I’m leaning toward the fifth place for this film.”

Also, if you happen to be in Los Angeles or New York this weekend, check out Chocolat with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, and Pollock, about the life of Abstract Expression painter Jackson Pollock, with Ed Harris as both the star and the director. Both films are opening in those cities today.

And don’t forget holdovers such as “The Grinch,” “Vertical Limit” and “Proof of Life.”

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