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Box Office Preview: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' will 'rain' at number one

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cloudy-with-a-chance_lAt last, young kids have had a reason to go to the movies. (July’s G-Force was the most recent opportunity and some parents are still reeling from the experience.) Sony Pictures’ PG-rated Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs will open this weekend in 2-D, 3-D and IMAX and is destined to lock into the number one spot over three other new films: Love Happens, The Informant!, and Jennifer’s Body. How will those movies open? Now that’s where it gets interesting. Megan Fox — the controversial ‘It’ girl of summer  — is exploiting her assets in the Karyn Kusama-directed, Diablo Cody-scripted horror film Jennifer’s Body while Aaron Eckhart chases Jennifer Aniston’s body in the romantic drama Love Happens. And Matt Damon dons a mustache and glasses for his Ocean’s director Steven Soderbergh in the R-rated comedy The Informant!

Overall, the weekend should handily beat out last year, when Samuel L. Jackson’s thriller Lakeview Terrace was number one with $15 million. Read on for my predictions.

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: $30 million

Sony bowed the animated flick Open Season in September 2006 and scored $23 million with it. While Cloudy veers significantly from the original book, it’s still has name recognition thanks to the popular children’s story that’s been floating around  libraries for the past 30 years. That, coupled with its slew of 3-D and IMAX venues, should boost the movie starring the voice talent of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Mr. T to the number one spot easily.

2. Jennifer’s Body: $12 million

Sorority Row’s attempt at mixing hot girls with horror didn’t work last weekend but that was without the star power of Fox and screenwriter Diablo Cody. This film will prove whether or not Fox is a box-office draw or just a sultry, outspoken celebrity. Reviews have not been kind but that may not matter as Twentieth Century Fox is clearly playing up the racy girl-on-girl kiss between Fox and a geeked-out Amanda Seyfried to lure in teen boys — and girls — to the film.

3. Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All by Myself: $10 million

Tyler Perry’s movies often fall in the 60 percent range. This one looks to be following the same trajectory despite the starring efforts of Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson.

4. The Informant!: $9 million

This one is rather confusing. On the surface, a Matt Damon-starrer from director Steven Soderbergh should do huge business. But somehow this one feels like it’s going to disappoint. Reviews have been decent (we gave it a B), but that may not be enough. Damon looks like a plumped-up version of his character from the Oceans movies and he’s doing comedy — nothing like Jason Bourne. Perhaps that’s just too far afield from how audiences want to see him. It’s unlikely this does much more than low double digits.

5. Love Happens: $8 million

Jennifer Aniston has sure been busy, releasing three films over the past nine months. While Marley and Me was a huge hit, this romantic drama with the incredibly generic title doesn’t seem to have much buzz. The marketing materials seem to tell the whole story of the film, which might prompt audiences to wait for it to hit cable rather than rushing to the theater. And, since it’s bowing in only 1,800 theaters, getting to double-digits may be close to impossible.

Also opening:

Jane Campion’s Bright Star opens in very limited release this weekend but has already generated big buzz from its film festival debuts. The film stars Abbie Cornish as the lover of poet John Keats, played by Ben Whishaw.