"Shaft" should have moviegoers shouting "Right On" at this weekend's box office.
Look for Paramount's R-rated urban appeal remake starring Samuel L. Jackson to open to a cool $20 million-plus at 2,337 theaters.
"Shaft" is a powerful 19% overall first choice in studio tracking studies, with its strongest appeal to men, especially those under 25.
"They're up from 15% first choice earlier in the week to 19%, so they're looking stronger than they did," an insider explains. "They'll do $20 million, maybe more."
"$22-25 million would be the number to me," predicts another studio source. "$10,000 a theater gives you $23 million."
Directed by John Singleton, "Shaft" stars Samuel L. Jackson and Vanessa Williams.
"Shaft" should give Buena Vista/Touchstone's "Gone In 60 Seconds" the first place heave-ho. The PG-13-rated action thriller, which opened last weekend to $25.3 million and some of the year's worst reviews, should slam on the brakes in second place in its second weekend.
"If they're off by a third, they'll do $16-17 million," says one insider. "And they could be off more than that."
"'Gone' is going to be down a third," agrees another source. "Too many films are going after males. So that's down to $17 million."
Paramount's PG-13 blockbuster action adventure sequel "Mission: Impossible 2" was second with $17.23 million last weekend. It's grossed over $158 million and is heading for $200-220 million in domestic theaters.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 comedy "Big Momma's House" finished a very close third with $17.22 million last weekend. It's done over $52 million-plus and is on its way to $90 million or more domestically.
"If 'Mission' and 'Big Momma' are down even 40%, they still do $10 million," one source speculates. "They're going to be $10-11 million."
"Animated movies don't track as well," cautions a distribution executive, who figures $10-11 million is "probably the best case scenario for 'Titan.'"
"Irene" will be sneaked at 10 p.m. performances, following the early evening showings of "Titan."
Sixth place should go to Dimension Films' PG-13-rated teen appeal romantic comedy "Boys and Girls," opening at about 1,500 theaters. An 8% overall first choice in the tracking, its strongest appeal is to women under 25, with whom it's a 24% first choice. Their dates, however, aren't nearly as anxious to see it. With men under 25, it's only a 3% first choice.
Also arriving: Buena Vista/Disney's G-rated animated feature "Fantasia 2000," a 2% first choice in the tracking. It moves into 1,313 theaters following its very successful big-screen IMAX release earlier this year.
Distribution sources say that when Buena Vista reports "Fantasia's" cume through Sunday, it will include the film's gross of about $50 million from its earlier run at 54 IMAX theaters.
Looking ahead, an executive points out, "'The Patriot' (opening June 28 via Columbia) is a 17% first choice. I understand it screened very well Wednesday for exhibitors. That's looking like a monster. 'Perfect Storm' (opening June 30 via Warner Bros.) is a 9% first choice, which, three weeks out, is very respectable.
"July Fourth weekend is going to be a very strong weekend because of the calendar. The Fourth of July is on a Tuesday, and a lot of people are going to be off work on Monday. That's going to really help Sunday night business. If the weatherman cooperates on the East Coast, all kinds of things could happen. It's shaping up to be a big Fourth of July weekend."
On the limited release front: Miramax's R-rated drama "Butterfly" opens in New York and Los Angeles. Set in 1936, it's the story of an eight-year-old boy and his schoolteacher on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Directed by Jose Luis Cuerda, it stars Fernando Fernan Gomez.
Lions Gate Films' R-rated drama "Jesus' Son" arrives in New York. It's a 1970s-set story about a young man on a journey from drug addiction and petty crime to personal redemption.