B.O. ANALYSIS: ‘Mission’ Accepted

It won’t just be difficult, it will be virtually impossible to evict “Mission: Impossible 2” from first place this weekend.

After opening to nearly $92 million for the six-day Memorial Day holiday period, Paramount’s “M:I-2” is certain to hold on to the top spot on the chart in its second week.

The PG-13 action adventure sequel did $96.3 million its first seven days in theaters vs. the original “Mission‘s” $79 million. The sequel cracked $100 million on Wednesday, its eighth day in release, and is heading for $200-250 million in the U.S. and Canada. It should do $300-350 million in international theaters, giving it a likely worldwide cume of $500-600 million, compared to the first film’s $465 million.

“‘Mission‘ will be number one,” promises one insider. “The first one dropped 52 percent in its second weekend. This one did $57.8 million (from Friday-Sunday), so they should expect to be somewhere in the mid-to-high $20 millions. It’s going to drop 50 percent-plus. Even if it’s 55 percent, I wouldn’t be alarmed.

“When you’re coming off a Memorial Day weekend with a picture that opened to this magnitude, you just have to expect a 50 percent drop. Your Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is like a Saturday. ‘Lost World‘ was down 53 percent (in its second weekend). A 55 percent drop would put them at $26 million. I think it’s $26-28 million.”

Going into its second weekend, “M:I-2” was a 22 percent first choice in tracking studies, suggesting it should continue to benefit from strong want-to-see by moviegoers who just haven’t gotten to see it yet.

“We have such a big population now and, of course, admission prices are so high we tend to forget you can rack up very big numbers with a very small portion of the population,” a distributor explains. “There’s a lot of people who never saw ‘Titanic‘ in a movie theater (and it grossed $600.8 million domestically).”

Insiders say the tracking shows “M:I-2” started to get repeat business over the weekend. Repeat ticket sales are typically to younger moviegoers, which is encouraging since the picture’s initial appeal was more adult.

Directed by John Woo, “M:I-2” was produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner through their Cruise/Wagner production company, which also produced the 1996 blockbuster “Mission: Impossible.” Besides Cruise, the sequel stars Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Sherbedgia and Ving Rhames. It was written by Robert Towne and executive produced by Terence Chang and Paul Hitchcock.

The weekend’s only new wide opening, 20th Century Fox’s PG-13 comedy “Big Momma’s House,” will be in 2,800-plus theaters and should finish a hefty second.

“It’s good,” comments one source looking at the tracking. “It’s 83 percent awareness, 43 percent definite interest and 13 percent first choice overall. But it has a 59 percent first choice for African-Americans. It’s going to play pretty much urban ethnic. It’ll do between $17-20 million.”

“I think it’s in the high teens – maybe $18 million,” agrees another distribution executive.

Directed by Raja Gosnell, it stars Martin Lawrence and Nia Long.

Buena Vista/Disney’s PG computer animated feature “Dinosaur,” should take third place in its third weekend.

“If it’s down 50 percent, it’s $12.5 million,” an insider notes. “It’s somewhere in the low teens.”

Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton, it features such voices as D.B Sweeney, Ossie Davis, Joan Plowright, Della Reese and Alfre Woodard.

What happens to Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment’s PG-13 action comedy “Shanghai Noon,” which arrived to a very encouraging $19.6 million for the six-day holiday period?

“I’m hearing such good things about the picture and how it plays,” says a competing studio executive. “It’s coming off Memorial Day weekend, so it’s got to drop some. But it did $15.6 million (from Friday-Sunday), and if it has only a 30 percent drop, which would be pretty remarkable, that puts it at $11 million. So it could be right in there behind ‘Dinosaur.'”

Directed by Tom Dey, “Shanghai” stars Jackie Chan, Owen C. Wilson and Lucy Liu.

DreamWorks’ R-rated action adventure hit “Gladiator” should round out the Top Five with $7-8 million in its fifth week. The film is half owned by Universal, which is releasing it internationally.

Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe.

With no other big new openings to jockey for position, the rest of the marketplace should just shift down one position apiece. That would put DreamWorks’ R-rated youth appeal comedy “Road Trip” in sixth place in its third week while DreamWorks’ PG-rated Woody Allen comedy “Small Time Crooks” comes in seventh in its third week.

Filling out lower rungs: “Frequency,” “U-571” and “Center Stage.”

On the limited release front: Columbia’s G-rated family drama “Running Free.”

Directed by Sergei Bodrov, it stars Chase Moore.