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''Chuck and Larry'' to edge out Harry

With Potter fans glued to Book No. 7, the Adam Sandler-Kevin James comedy should rise just enough to overtake ”Order of the Phoenix,” with ”Hairspray” dancing into the picture as a strong No. 3

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Here’s a fun little statistic that I don’t think you’ll read anywhere else, box office fans: According to my calculations, this week marks the first time in history when the top 20 includes 10 movies that have earned $100 million or more. Amazing! (For the record, they are: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Transformers; Ratatouille; Live Free or Die Hard; Knocked Up; Ocean’s Thirteen; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; Shrek the Third; and Spider-Man 3.) So it’s no wonder that, when you tabulate the cumulative box-office returns, the summer of 2007 is currently on pace to beat 2004, the standing best summer on record. Certainly some credit for that achievement goes to our young friends at Hogwarts, whose latest film has been conjuring up the box-office bucks for the past nine days. But they’ll face their first challenge this weekend when the new Adam Sandler comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, premieres.

THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Universal · PG-13 · 3,495 theaters · NEW
Adam Sandler comedies always open big (see: Click‘s $40 mil, The Longest Yard‘s $47.6 mil, 50 First Dates‘ $39.9 mil, and so on), so this one will, too. Right? Not so fast. The fact is, the movie’s plot (Sandler and Kevin James play two firefighters who pretend they’re gay) will likely turn off some potential viewers. Thanks to Sandler’s presence, I think INPYCaL will premiere better than the similarly innuendo-filled comedy Blades of Glory (which debuted with $33 mil in March). But the underlying subject matter means it’ll come out on the low end of Sandler openers.
Weekend prediction: $38 million

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 4,285 theaters · 2nd weekend
You’ve gotta believe that, as popular as HpatOotP has been so far (it’s made more than $160 mil domestically and some $350 mil worldwide) and as buzzy as the Harry Potter franchise is these days, the movie’s box-office receipts are going to suffer this weekend when all its potential ticket buyers will be home, locked in their rooms, window shades drawn, poring over Deathly Hallows.
Weekend prediction: $36 million

Hairspray
New Line · PG · 3,121 theaters · NEW
A few weeks back, I saw this movie adaptation of the Broadway adaptation of the John Waters cult classic. And I have to say that, while I’ve never been a musical man, I really dug it. Great song-and-dance set pieces, great costumes, great overall design — and John Travolta, under layers of makeup and fabric as corpulent Edna Turnblad, doesn’t come off nearly as weird as he seems at first. It’s a real crowd pleaser, and if people are willing to take the plunge and buy a ticket, I think they’ll be glad. Certainly reviewers think so: As of Thursday afternoon, Hairspray was scoring a strong 76 out of 100 on Metacritic.com. Musicals have had an up-and-down time at the box office of late (Chicago earned $170.7 mil and won Best Picture, and Dreamgirls was a $103.4 mil hit, but Rent and The Producers flopped big time), so the performance of this film will go a long way in demonstrating the genre’s sustainability.
Weekend prediction: $22 million

Transformers
Paramount · PG-13 · 3,762 theaters · 3rd weekend
While they’ve been trying to kill each other, the Autobots and Decepticons have been making a killing at the box office — more than $235 mil domestically in less than three weeks. At this rate, they could wind up being among the top three or so blockbusters of the summer. Who’da thunk?
Weekend prediction: $20 million

Ratatouille
Walt Disney · G · 3,402 theaters · 4th weekend
Critics and crowds love it. But for as well as it’s doing financially (so far, the CG rodent-fest has brought in more than $150 mil domestically), Ratatouille likely will wind up merely the sixth-highest earner of the eight Pixar movies — and that’s if it can clear the $191.8 mil (a total not adjusted for inflation) earned by the original Toy Story. So here’s a question to ponder over the weekend: Does that make it a hit or a flop or…what?
Weekend prediction: $13 million

Test your box-office prediction skills! Play the new EW Summer Box Office Challenge game!