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''Blades of Glory'' will take the gold this weekend

Will Ferrell ice-skating romp ”Blades of Glory” will cut an impressive figure — say, $45 mil — freezing out the Robinsons, Turtles, Spartans, and Hogs

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Jon Heder, Will Ferrell, ...

As Dana Carvey’s grumpy old man on SNL might say, ”In my day, the spring box office wasn’t so busy and tough to analyze!” Well, clearly, those old days are long gone. With the surprise successes of Wild Hogs and 300, and the release of an unusually high number of potential blockbusters every week, it’s been a nutty March, for sure.

This weekend is no exception, with three major debuts crowding multiplexes. Will Ferrell’s latest comedy, the figure-skating opus Blades of Glory, should triple-axel its way to a gold medal. But a sneak attack is possible — Meet the Robinsons could emerge as its, you know, Jeff Gillooly. Needless to say, these predictions have me wailing, ”Why? Why?” because darned if I don’t like being in this position. But, hey, taking a whack at — sorry — picking the winner is my job. And I’ll have you to back me up in the poll below! Kudos, by the way, to the 60 percent of you who called TMNT‘s big victory last time around. Whaddya say we score another perfect 6.0 with this weekend’s forecast?

THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE

Blades of Glory
Paramount · PG-13 · 3,372 theaters · NEW
Will Ferrell rocketed onto Hollywood’s A-List when 2003’s Elf earned $173.4 mil, but his track record has been inconsistent ever since. While Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy scored a strong $85.3 mil, films like Bewitched and Kicking and Screaming underperformed. Which made last summer’s $148.2 mil-grossing Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby something of a comeback. But is his mojo here to stay? I think so. People clearly prefer Ferrell in this sort of lowbrow comedy. (In Blades, he’s one half of a pairs figure-skating duo with Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder…but they’re not gay! Ha ha ha!) Furthermore, his PG-13 farce doesn’t have much direct comic competition this weekend. So the real question is: How well will it do? Others are expecting that it’ll score in the mid-30s, but I’m gonna skate out onto thin ice and say it’ll go much higher than that. Talladega Nights, after all, premiered with $47 mil last summer, and, lord knows, several opening numbers this spring (see: Wild Hogs‘ $39.7 mil and 300‘s insane $70.9 mil) have been way out of whack with predictions. So, fingers — er, blades crossed.
Weekend prediction: $45 million

Meet the Robinsons
Disney · G · 3,413 theaters · NEW
Blades of Glory may be hogging most of the buzz among older kids and grownups, but the wee ones are no doubt excited to get their first major animated release of 2007. Disney’s G-rated talking-picture pictures should never be underestimated, and I’m not about to do that. But I do feel like this flick — a wild adventure that’s being shown in 3-D in a few hundred locations — smacks more of good-but-not-terrific openers like Chicken Little or TMNT than it does of huge hits like The Incredibles or last spring’s cartoon champ, Ice Age 2. What’s more, I can’t help but speculate that the whole 3-D thing is an attempt to boost interest in an otherwise lackluster, star-free production.
Weekend prediction: $25 million

TMNT
Warner Bros. · PG · 3,120 theaters · 2nd weekend
The Turtles have been fighting well during the week, averaging about a million bucks per day. Still, due to fresh competition from Meet the Robinsons, a 50-percent drop is in order.
Weekend prediction: $12 million

300
Warner Bros. · R · 3,004 theaters · 4th weekend
With another strong weekend, Gerard Butler & Co. should bring their North American total to more than $177 mil — thus bumping The Greatest Movie of All Time, Top Gun, off the list of the Top 100 domestic grossers ever. Sniff.
Weekend prediction: $11 million

Wild Hogs
Touchstone · PG-13 · 3,200 theaters · 5th weekend
Those easy riders just keep ridin’. Amazingly, during its month-long trek through theaters, the mid-life-crisis comedy has yet to drop more than 31 percent in a week.
Weekend prediction: $9 million

THE OTHER NEW RELEASE

The Lookout
Miramax · R · 955 theaters · NEW
Young-ish cuties Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Isla Fisher costar in this crime thriller, which is written and directed by one of my favorite scribes, Scott Frank (Out of Sight). While an R rating and moderate theater count fog up The Lookout‘s financial lookout, positive reviews (as of Thursday afternoon, it was scoring a solid 76 out of 100 on Metacritic.com) are always nice.
Weekend prediction: $5 million

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