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''Cradle 2 the Grave'' should win the box office war

”Cradle 2 the Grave” should win the box office war. The DMX-Jet Li actionfest will likely blindside ”Daredevil” and ”Old School”

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Jet Li, Cradle 2 the Grave
Cradle 2 the Grave: Claudette Barius

This weekend’s box office contest should be no contest at all. The only new film opening wide is action drama”Cradle 2 the Grave.” The teaming of rapper/actor DMX and martial arts hero Jet Li should be potent enough to knock the fading ”Daredevil” off the perch it’s held for two weeks.

”Cradle” marks the third reteaming of DMX, director Andrzej Bartkowiak, and action producer Joel Silver (”The Matrix”), after 2001’s ”Exit Wounds” and 2000’s ”Romeo Must Die.” Each of these movies debuted near $20 million, as did Jet Li’s last fu fest, ”The One.” Opening on more than 2,600 screens, there’s no reason ”Cradle” shouldn’t do the same.

Duking it out for second place will be Ben Affleck’s blind superhero and the aging fratboys of ”Old School.” When ”Daredevil” declined sharply last weekend, the Will Ferrell comedy almost beat it; in fact, it’s been the top movie for much of this week. So expect ”Old School” to drop a modest 35 percent this weekend to finish at No. 2 with a take of $11 million. ”Daredevil” should continue its slide and finish third with $10 million.

”How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is still the only draw for the date crowd. It should also see only a slight drop to $8 million for a fourth-place finish. Fighting for fifth place in the $6.5 million territory will be the beasts of ”The Jungle Book 2” and the murderous showgirls of ”Chicago.” The Disney cartoon gets the kid vote, but ”Chicago,” which has been building steadily as its Oscar campaign steamrolls along, gets the overall edge.