Weekend Predictions (Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, 2009): 'Taken,' 'The Uninvited' and 'New In Town'

Featured Stories - on January 29, 2009 by Phil Contrino

Three new wide releases open against the biggest sporting spectacle of the year. Which one will come out on top?

Expectations will be lowered in Hollywood this weekend thanks to the colossal sporting event known as the Super Bowl.

Yet even if this weekend does post less-than-stellar numbers, the month of January has been very successful. While Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Gran Torino have dominated the top of the box office, other films such as My Bloody Valentine 3D, Notorious and Bride Wars have all performed very well. 2009's box office haul is already ahead of 2008's total at the same point in the year by at least $60 million.

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Fox will open Taken at 3,193 locations this weekend. Even though the film's star, Liam Neeson, isn't the biggest box office draw in the world, he's still easily recognizable among mainstream audiences. By starring in such blockbusters as Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Batman Begins, the 56-year-old actor has gained a certain level of trust. Luckily, Fox has also given Taken a strong marketing blitz, and the familiar storyline about a man who tries save his child from kidnappers will appeal to action enthusiasts. Taken will mainly entice male demographics, which means that it'll need to grab as much cash as it can on Friday and Saturday before its primary audience all but disappears on Sunday. Look for Taken to bring in as much as $15 million during its debut frame.

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Elizabeth Banks ( Zack and Miri Make a Porno, W. ) leads the cast of The Uninvited, which Paramount is opening at more than 2,000 locations. The horror flick has the distinct disadvantage of coming on the heels of The Unborn and My Bloody Valentine 3D, which both opened successfully in January. Mainstream audiences may be at least temporarily tired of the horror genre, and Uninvited 's grosses will suffer slightly as a result. Banks isn't a sizable box office draw yet, but the trailers for the film promise some effective thrills. The Uninvited should gross around $11 million this weekend.

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Also debuting this weekend is New in Town, which stars Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. Lionsgate is obviously trying to grab females audiences that aren't interested in the Super Bowl with Town. Still, Zellwegger is not a big draw if she's not backed up by a strong male lead, and Connick Jr. has always enjoyed a cult status when it comes to his success in films. Don't expect Town to post the same kind of "chick flick" numbers that the likes of Sex and the City and Baby Mama have recently. Lionsgate is opening Town at a modest 1,941 locations, which means it could bring in as much as $6 million this weekend.

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