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Affleck and Diaz lead a battle of the sexes

Affleck and Diaz lead a battle of the sexes. In the biggest tussle since dogs vs. cats, two new flicks aim to please males or females, but probably not both

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Changing Lanes
Changing Lanes: Kerry Hayes

How’s this for a battle of the sexes? New movies from fan favorites Ben Affleck and Cameron Diaz will square off this weekend for the box office crown, as a guy movie takes on a chick flick for ultimate supremacy.

The boys night out is ”Changing Lanes,” starring Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson as two strangers who attempt to ruin each other’s lives after a freak fender-bender in Manhattan. An intriguing concept combined with one of the most fascinating acting duos of the season should result in a solid $15 million opening for the R-rated drama.

The girls night out, meanwhile, is ”The Sweetest Thing,” a romantic comedy starring Diaz, Selma Blair, and Christina Applegate about… well, come to think of it, we don’t know what it’s about. The TV ads have been so busy selling the flick as ”There’s Something About Mary 2” that we were barely able to discern any plot points. (Actually, it’s about Diaz’s failed attempts to woo her new crush, played by Thomas Jane.) Regardless, the romance angle along with the film’s apparent gross-out content will probably amount to a $12 million opening, unless the ladies come out in full enough force to upset the gents.

The rest of the top five will be a shakedown of returning entries. Jodie Foster’s ”Panic Room” is likely to fall to No. 3 after spending two weeks at the top of the charts. A 40 percent drop would mean another $11 million for the claustrophobic thriller. Close behind will be ”Ice Age” in its fifth week with about $10 million. And ”High Crimes” and ”The Rookie” will tussle for fifth place with $8 million each.

The week’s other semi-wide new release, the well-reviewed Bill Paxton/ Matthew McConaughey horror flick ”Frailty,” should fall outside of the top five with about $6 million, due to its relatively low theater count (about 1,500, compared to about 2,600 for ”Changing Lanes” and ”The Sweetest Thing”). Still, its per-theater average will probably be pretty scary — in a good way.

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