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''I Am Legend'' to stand alone

Will Smith’s last-man-on-Earth flick will devour the competition this weekend, including an unappetizing-looking (but possibly strong) debut for ”Alvin and the Chipmunks” and three slipping holdovers

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Will Smith, I Am Legend

As if you need me to tell you what will be No. 1 this weekend. Will Smith’s I Am Legend is more of a sure thing than the airports being crowded during the holidays. The biggest — and likely last-standing — movie star in the world, Smith is turning his sights to the world of vampires, and audiences of all shapes and sizes are going to be cramming the theaters to see this one. Really, there isn’t a genre this movie star can’t tackle. The only real question is just how big I Am Legend will be. Other new entries for the weekend include Fox’s kid pic Alvin and the Chipmunks and Yari Film Group Releasing’s The Perfect Holiday.

THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE

I Am Legend
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 3,606 theaters · NEW
From director Francis Lawrence (Constantine), this big quasi-horror spectacular, based on the classic 1954 novel of the same name, has got the box office wrapped up. It’s likely that the movie, centering on the last man standing in New York after a virus wipes out the population, will gross in the range of Smith’s 2004 sci-fi movie, I, Robot, which opened to $52 million. It’s also bowing on IMAX screens, after a six-minute sneak peek at The Dark Knight, which can only boost grosses.
Weekend prediction: $55 million

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Fox · PG · 3,476 theaters · NEW
It’s movies like these that depress me. The trailers are so offensive in their scatological humor that I would think no parent in their right mind would take their kids to see them. And yet my sources tell me that it is gaining tremendous steam with all the tracking predictors. Arghh, America — get some taste, will ya?
Weekend prediction: $21 million

The Golden Compass
New Line · PG-13 · THEATRE COUNT TBA · 2nd weekend
I feel bad for this movie. Its intentions were all so good, and so many people spent so much time making this film, based on the fabulous Philip Pullman novels. And yet no one really cared — yes, the movie opened at No. 1, but still below expectations. Now Compass is going to get beaten to a pulp its second weekend, with both I Am Legend and Alvin taking chunks of its audience away.
Weekend prediction: $13 million

Enchanted
Walt Disney Pictures · PG · 3,066 theaters · 4th weekend
Perhaps it will get a little uptick from Amy Adams’ Golden Globe nomination. Or maybe another round of princesses will be frolicking to the theaters for a dose of fantasy. Whatever the reason, Enchanted, in its fourth week, is still likely to lure in audiences.
Weekend prediction: $7 million

No Country for Old Men
Miramax · R · 1,348 theaters · 6th weekend
This Coen Brothers film broke into the top 10 last weekend for the first time in its five-week run, grossing an additional $4 million to bring its total close to $29 million. With Miramax adding another 50 theaters this weekend, the R-rated gun-slinger should be able to hold in the top 10 for a second week running.
Weekend prediction: $3 million

OTHER NEW RELEASES

The Perfect Holiday
Yari Film Group · PG · 1,306 theaters · NEW
Queen Latifah is narrating. Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, and Terrence Howard star, but this film feels like an also-ran to Screen Gems’ This Christmas, which has grossed close to $45 million and seems to be the urban feel-good movie of the season. The film did bow on Wednesday, which should help, but bad reviews are going to make it hard to earn any real coin.
Weekend prediction: $2.5 million; five-day: $4 million