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Britney should top Denzel, Bruce, and Ah-nuld

Britney should top Denzel, Bruce, and Ah-nuld. The singer’s search for her birth mother will draw female fans who are tired of men battling in the ER and at war

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Britney Spears, Crossroads

Four new releases will slug it out for box office honors this Presidents’ Day weekend, but who will win? A-listers Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Britney Spears, and a cartoon kid named Peter Pan all enter the race, which promises to be one of the tightest of the year.

Could Britney pull out a victory over Bruce and Denzel? Possibly. Her leading-role movie debut, ”Crossroads,” has the pop singer embarking on a road trip with two other girls and a guy to L.A. in search of her birth mother. With a PG-13 rating, several musical numbers, and some bordering-on-racy plot points, this will be the movie to see this weekend for any teen female. If Mandy Moore could rustle up $12 million for her flick ”A Walk to Remember,” surely Britney can amass $17 million over four days to top the charts.

Second place should go to box-office standby Denzel Washington, returning as a man who takes an ER hostage to save his dying son in the melodrama ”John Q.” Denzel is always a draw, so even if the film doesn’t earn rave reviews (many critics will likely brand it manpiulative), Washington’s star power is strong enough to guarantee a $16 million opening.

Look for Bruce Willis’ ”Hart’s War,” the latest war movie to debut in recent months, to snag third place with about $14 million. The drama, which seems to be a cross between ”A Few Good Men” and ”The Great Escape,” will play to older males who couldn’t care less about Britney.

Close behind in the fourth slot should be ”Return to Neverland,” a Disney family film that continues the adventures of Peter Pan. This time, the green-loving guy is trying to rescue Wendy’s kidnapped daughter, but really, who cares? It’s got the word Disney on it, which is all that moms and dads will care about, to the tune of $13 or so million.

With all the new entries, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s thriller ”Collateral Damage” stands to plummet from first to fifth, dropping about 40 percent from its $15.1 million opening to $9 million. Unless word of mouth is particularly strong, ”Damage” could end up being a one-weekend wonder.

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