"It will be close," an insider promises. "Even though 'Remember the Titans' is expanding, they're bringing in a lot of small markets and there's got to be, at least, a 15% drop. Let's put it at $17 million. I think 'Meet the Parents' has a good chance of being number one. It could be $18 million, or it could more than $20 million if the marketplace expands."
The last two weekends saw key films - those grossing $500,000 or more for three days - do a very lean $56-57 million. "The question is," asks this insider, "Will the marketplace expand considerably? Can this be a $70 million weekend (for key films)?"
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Meet the Parents" will arrive in 2,612 theaters. The film should play to a broad audience, attracting both younger moviegoers (Ben Stiller fans) and over-25 moviegoers (Robert De Niro fans).
"I don't know if 'Meet the Parents' will open to $20 million, but it will certainly open in the mid-to-high teens," predicts another executive. "I think ' Remember the Titans,' which they're adding runs on, has another shot to do $20 million. I think it's going to hold up, but it could be neck and neck. They could still suffer a drop and come in at $17-18 million. But that could put them above 'Meet the Parents.'"
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated football theme drama "Titans," which kicked off to a $20.9 million touchdown last weekend at 1,865 theaters, should benefit from its expansion now to 2,701 theaters.
"I think the market will be better this weekend than last simply because there will be several titles - 'Meet the Parents' and 'Remember the Titans' and whatever 'Get Carter' and 'Digimon' get," says a distributor. "Last weekend was basically one movie ('Titans') and everything else."
Third place should go to Warner Bros.' launch of Franchise Pictures' R-rated action adventure "Get Carter" with $8-10 million, according to the most optimistic Hollywood handicappers.
"I think you're talking single digits," says a more cautious executive, who thinks $7-8 million is a more likely range. "That's enough to beat 'The Exorcist,' which only held up as well as it did (off 12% last weekend) because they added (664) runs. They'll probably take a more natural drop down to $5-6 million."
Warner Bros.' reissue of its R-rated 1973 horror classic "The Exorcist" should finish fourth, down two pegs from last week with $4-5 million. Although it's not going significantly wider this weekend, it will widen again on Friday, Oct. 13, adding 400-500 more theaters.
DreamWorks and Columbia's R-rated comedy drama "Almost Famous," which was third last weekend with a 20% drop to $5.6 million, should slip to fifth place in its fourth week. Another 20% decline would put it at about $4.5 million. If "Famous" manages to hold up slightly better, however, it could sneak in just ahead of "Exorcist" in fourth place.
20th Century Fox's wide launch of its PG-rated Japanese animated feature "Digimon: The Movie" at 1,850 theaters isn't expected to crack the Top Five. Insiders speculate that it could be in the $3 million ballpark.
"It is something for kids, and they haven't had anything for a while," a studio source notes.
"Urban Legends: Final Cut," Columbia's R-rated horror sequel, should slide three pegs to seventh place in its third week with $2.5-3 million.
Directed by John Ottman, "Urban" stars Jennifer Morrison.
Filling out lower rungs: "Bring It On," "Nurse Betty" and "The Watcher."
This weekend will also see Sony's Screen Gems' R-rated drama "Girlfight" expand in its second weekend of limited release.
Artisan Entertainment's controversial unrated drama "Requiem For A Dream" opens exclusively in New York.
20th Century Fox and New Regency's R-rated drama "Tigerland" begins its platform release in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto.
Lions Gate's R-rated drama "Two Family House" opens in New York and L.A.
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R-rated drama "Bootmen" goes into exclusive engagements in New York and L.A.
Fine Line Features' drama "Dancer in the Dark" widens in limited release to L.A. and other top markets.