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Mel Gibson will battle Austin Powers for No. 1

Mel Gibson will battle Austin Powers for No. 1. Box office idol Gibson will give the shagadelic Brit a run for his — and the movie audience’s — money

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Mel Gibson, Rory Culkin, ...
Signs: Frank Masi

Can Mel Gibson scare Austin Powers from the top of the box office? We’ll find out this weekend, as ”Signs” takes on ”Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

Last week, ”Goldmember” shattered box office records with an unbelievable $73.1 million debut. But how shagadelic will Austin be in week two? In 1999, ”Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” fell 43 percent in its second week. Since ”Goldmember”’s opening was so huge, expect it to drop a bit more. A 45 percent decline would result in another $40 million and a 10-day total of more than $125 million.

Gibson, meanwhile, appears in theaters for the second time this year (after March’s $78 million-grossing ”We Were Soldiers”) with ”Signs,” a supernatural thriller written and directed by ”The Sixth Sense”’s M. Night Shyamalan. Gibson is always a big draw — the tough-sell ”Soldiers” opened with $20.2 million — so ”Signs” should also open large. A No. 1 opening is possible, but perhaps a $35 million debut for the No. 2 spot is more in order.

Two quite different new entries will battle for third place. Julia Roberts takes a backseat for the ensemble Hollywood dramedy ”Full Frontal,” directed by ”Traffic” Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh. The rest of the cast is also stellar — David Duchovny, David Hyde Pierce, and Catherine Keener, to name just three — but the subject matter and tone are esoteric to say the least. Will Julia’s fans come out in ”Full” force? Not to the same extent as a Julia romantic comedy. Meanwhile, long lost comedian Dana Carvey is back in the goofy comedy ”Master of Disguise,” which is being marketed squarely to kids. Both films should debut with about $12 million.

Rounding out the top five will be Tom Hanks’ ”Road to Perdition,” which dropped only 28 percent last week. Another similar drop would result in $8 million for the gangster drama, bringing its total past $75 million. In another words: It’s a hit, man.