Moviegoers and "Parents" should meet again in first place given the gloomy expectations for this weekend's new releases.
While most top level studio marketing and distribution executives were in Orlando this week for ShowEast, the annual convention of exhibitors and distributors, the handful of Hollywood handicappers left minding the store see the holdovers "Meet the Parents" and "Remember the Titans" as the films most likely to perform well.
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Meet the Parents," which opened to a sizzling $28.6 million last week, is a safe bet to hold on to the top spot. If it falls 25%, it will still do about $21.5 million. Even a 30% drop would give it a $20 million second weekend.
"It's kind of crystal-ballish, but based on what's out there, 'Meet the Parents' could very well be number one again," one insider volunteered while on the run between ShowEast receptions.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated football theme drama "Remember the Titans," which expanded last weekend and placed second with $19.2 million, should continue as the box office runner-up.
Although "Titans" was off only 8% last weekend, its drop was cushioned by adding 1,865 new runs. Its second weekend decline was about 20% in its original theaters. "Titans" should have good legs. If it slides by only another 20% or so, it should still tackle $15-16 million.
Watch for a close race for third place between New Line's opening (at 1,970 theaters) of its R-rated horror thriller "Lost Souls," Artisan Entertainment's kick off (at 1,489 theaters) of its R-rated romantic comedy "Dr. T and the Women," and Paramount's launch (at 2,022 theaters) of its R-rated urban appeal comedy "The Ladies Man."
All three new titles are likely to wind up in the unexciting $7.5-10 million range. When the box office dust settles, they'll round out the Top Five.
The weekend's other wide opening, DreamWorks' R-rated political thriller "The Contender," could just miss the Top Five, despite good reviews.
Moviegoers' votes for "Contender," which is running at 1,516 theaters, could add up to $4.5-$5.5 million. But don't write it off yet. If the public likes "Contender" as much as critics have, good word of mouth could help it find its audience in the weeks ahead.
This weekend will also see Universal's opening in limited release of its critically-acclaimed, R-rated drama "Billy Elliot," the first title from the studio's new Universal Focus banner.
"Billy" will kick off at 10 theaters in six top markets (New York, L.A., Boston, Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco). Universal plans a slow roll out to enable word of mouth to build and favorable reviews to circulate.
Sony Pictures Classics' unrated comedy "Just Looking" opens exclusive engagements in New York and L.A.