Weekend Predictions (Jan. 16 to Jan. 18, 2009): 'Notorious,' 'My Bloody Valentine 3D,' 'Hotel For Dogs' and 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop'

Featured Stories - on January 15, 2009 by Phil Contrino

Will any of the four new wide releases be able to take the #1 spot from Gran Torino at the box office this weekend?

2009 is off to a great start.

Last weekend, Gran Torino took industry prognosticators by surprise when it grossed nearly $30 million. Meanwhile, Bride Wars and The Unborn both posted solid debuts with $21 million and $19.8 million, respectively.

This weekend is going to be just as strong.

Four new wide releases will try to topple Torino. Still, thanks to positive word of mouth, Clint Eastwood's latest opus may remain #1.

Chances are that it's going to be a photo finish between Torino, Notorious and My Bloody Valentine 3D. Either one of those films could manage to edge past the competition in order to grab the top spot. While Torino appeals to older audiences, Notorious and MBV3D will have to fight for control over crucial under-30 demographics.

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Eastwood's films tend to hold their audiences well, and Torino could see a modest 30% decrease from last weekend. If that's the case, then the Warner Bros. release should bring in around $21 million from Friday-Sunday, and even more on Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday.

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Despite the fact that it is opening at a modest 1,637 locations, interest in Notorious is high. Early data from MovieTickets.com and Fandango.com is showing that audiences are supporting the film more than any other new release. If it were opening on more screens, then Notorious would easily be the #1 film this weekend. As it stands now, the Fox Searchlight release may barely squeak past Torino with a Friday-Sunday haul of $22 million. By the end of Monday it could easily surpass the $25 million mark.

MBV3D should not to be counted out by any means. While the film will have to compete directly with The Unborn for the attention of horror fans, that shouldn't be a debilitating obstacle. The Lionsgate release is landing on a record 1,033 3D screens, which will help boost its box office due to the inflated price of 3D tickets. Look for MBV3D to bring in around $19 million during the Friday-Sunday period.

Two other new releases, Hotel for Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop, will have to fight for the attention of lucrative family audiences.

While Dogs may lead to a bit of déjà vu after the success of Marley and Me, it will probably represent a more appealing choice for the entire family than Blart. Dogs should be able to grab close to $15 million from Friday-Sunday, and it could sneak up on the $20 million mark thanks to the national holiday.

Blart should post relatively solid numbers even though star Kevin James has not established himself as a box office draw. After a successful run on television with King of Queens, James has found success in movies but that success has been in support of Will Smith in Hitch and Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Blart will be the comedic actor's first real test at the box office, and it should be able to bring in around $10 million from Friday-Sunday.

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