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''X-Men'' will be the heroes this holiday weekend

Joshua Rich’s prediction: Over four days, ”X-Men: The Last Stand” could bring around $90 mil

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Here we go again… The Gods of Movie Distribution have smiled upon me this Memorial Day weekend. Just one major motion picture opens today, Fox’s X-Men: The Last Stand, and everybody knows it’ll be No. 1, which makes my job pretty easy, wouldn’t you say? So… well, my work here is done. Surf City, here I come!

Oh, okay, you took the time to log on to this free website, so I guess I have to give you your money’s worth. X-M:TLS bows on 3,689 screens, which in industry jargon is ”very” wide — as opposed to ”super-duper” wide, or something, which is how Mission: Impossible III premiered four weeks ago, in more than 4,000 venues. But don’t be surprised if X-M:TLS winds up with a first weekend that’s far superior to M:I-3‘s $47.7 million. Why? (You mean besides the fact that this film stars nobody who’s pissed off women and shrinks nationwide?) The PG-13-rated X-M:TLS sports quite the pedigree. X1 premiered with $54.5 mil in 2000, and X2 debuted to $85.6 mil in 2003. Director Brett Ratner has a spotty history at the box office, for sure, but when it comes to franchise-picture openings, he really is the golden boy he purports to be: Rush Hour bowed with $33 mil in 1998, Rush Hour 2 took in $67.4 mil in 2001, and Red Dragon earned $36.5 mil in 2002. Heck, as I mentioned in this very column a few weeks back, even star Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing had a solid $51.7 mil premiere in 2004. The numbers don’t lie, and they point to a huge $91 mil opening for X-M:TLS this four-day Memorial Day weekend.

The Da Vinci Code has been playing very strongly during this past week, following its terrific $77.1 mil bow last weekend. It’ll go down a bit — but, with just one other movie as major competition, not too much — and earn $53 mil over the four-day span. And, in honor of Tom Hanks, that’s all I have to say about that.