"X" will mark the top spot on the chart this weekend.
With "X-Men's" 27% overall first-choice tracking among opening and released films, insiders expect the PG-13-rated 20th Century Fox sci-fi action adventure to open to $25-30 million at over 3,000 theaters.
"It could do $35 million if it's really, really front-loaded (with moviegoers running to see it right away)," an insider notes.
"X-Men," based on the hit Marvel comic book, should benefit from being this weekend's only new wide release.
Who's most interested in seeing it? "It's primarily younger (under 25) and older males," explains one distribution executive, "with very little females. 'Scary Movie' is primarily young males and young females. So 'Scary Movie' gets hurt with young males, but should still have the young females."
"Females have 'X-Men' an 11% first choice. Males have it a 31% first choice," a source points out. "Females have 'Scary Movie' an 11% first choice and males have it a 12% first choice.
"It looks like 'X-Men' is much more ethnic (in its appeal). 'X-Men' has a 30% first choice for African-Americans and a 41% first choice for African-American males. And it's a 57% first choice for older (over 25) African-American males. They relate to the comic book."
Directed by Bryan Singer and produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, "X-Men's" extensive cast is headed by Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen.
Dimension Films' R-rated gross-out comedy horror film spoof "Scary Movie," which opened to $42.3 million last weekend, should slide one slot to second place. Among opening and released films, it's a 20% first choice in the tracking.
"You would certainly think it would drop 40% or better the second weekend, which puts it around $25 million - in other words, a figure they would have been happy to have had for opening weekend," an insider says. "But I think 'X-Men' is going to knock it down to second place."
"Most of the tracking indicates that 'Scary Movie' is (playing) very young," adds another observer. "So that's an indication it's going to get hurt this weekend. I think it will drop 50%. That will put it at, say, $21 million. But I'll take a movie that opens to $42 million any day. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing it."
In post-weekend ticket sales, "Scary" scared up a very healthy $15 million-plus from Monday through Wednesday. "It's good business," a distributor says. "It's summertime and it's what the teenagers are going to see."
Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it stars Carmen Electra and Shannon Elizabeth.
Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated adventure drama blockbuster "The Perfect Storm" should float down one fathom to third place in its third weekend.
"'Perfect Storm' is somewhere in the high teens," predicts one studio executive. A 30%-35% drop would give it $18-19 million.
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, "Storm" stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Columbia and Centropolis Entertainment's R-rated period piece drama "The Patriot" should be fighting one notch lower in fourth place in its third weekend with $10-11 million.
Directed by Roland Emmerich, "Patriot" stars Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated comedy drama "Disney's The Kid," which opened a week earlier to $12.7 million, should round out the Top Five.
"I don't know how well it's going to hold up," an insider speculates. "Let's say it's down only 30%. That would put it at about $9 million."
Directed by Jon Turtletaub, "Kid" stars Bruce Willis.
DreamWorks' G-rated animated feature "Chicken Run" should fly the Top Five coop in its fourth weekend, down one peg to sixth place with $6-7 million.
Directed by Peter Lord & Nick Park, "Chicken" features such voices as Mel Gibson and Miranda Richardson.
20th Century Fox's R-rated Jim Carrey comedy "Me, Myself & Irene" should slide one notch to seventh place in its fourth weekend with $5-6 million.
Directed by Peter & Bobby Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary"), "Irene" stars Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger.
Filling out lower rungs this weekend: "Shaft," "Big Momma's House" and "Gone In 60 Seconds."
On the limited release front: Artisan Entertainment's R-rated dark comedy "Chuck and Buck," a hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, opens in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Directed by Miguel Arteta, it stars Mike white and Chris Weitz.
Fine Line Features' R-rated comedy drama "The Five Senses" opens in New York.
Written and directed by Jeremy Podeswa, it stars Mary-Louise Parker and Brendan Fletcher.
Miramax's R-rated vampire tale "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" opens in New York.
Directed by Po-Chih Leong, it stars Jude Law.
Looking ahead, an insider notes, DreamWorks' "What Lies Beneath," which doesn't open until July 21, was already a solid 11% overall first choice in tracking earlier this week. The R-rated supernatural thriller boasts an A-list adult appeal team -- "Forrest Gump" Oscar winning director Robert Zemeckis, plus Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
"I think that's a good number," he says. "By next week at this time, they can certainly be in the mid-to-high teens. I don't know that that means they open to $30 million. I think for them $20 million is probably a good number, because a lot of their audience is older and doesn't run out on (the first weekend) to see it."