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Box office preview: Audiences likely to take a trip to 'Couples Retreat'

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couples-retreat01_lCritics hate Couples Retreat. And while that doesn’t ever seem to matter for a big “event” movie like Transformers or G.I. Joe, will it make a difference for an adult-oriented comedy? Sure, Vince Vaughn is reuniting with his Swingers buddy Jon Favreau but the movie is about four couples and their relationship issues. Is that fun? Or just a reminder of your real life? Tracking suggests the movie still opens in first place but that’s probably more a reflection of nothing else opening wide this weekend than the merits of the movie itself. And how is it that on Columbus Day weekend no other studio is opening a movie in wide release? In an era of weekend after weekend of at least three new movies bowing on top of each other, how did Hollywood’s distributors leave Oct. 9 alone? It only means good news for Sony Pictures and its two films: Zombieland and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Both films are hits already. This weekend will only solidify that position.

1. Couples Retreat: $22 million

The reunion of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau will outgross their original pairing Swingers the first night it hits theaters. (That’s an easy feat as Swingers grossed only $4. 5 million when it opened back in 1996.) But will the movie make as much money? Swingers cost only $200,000 and featured a bunch of unknowns. Now Vaughn and Favreau are expensive, which is most likely why the rest of the cast is made up of television stars like Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, and Kristen Davis. It’s clear the rest of Hollywood stayed away from this weekend because on paper it was destined to be a massive hit. Now that doesn’t seem to be panning out so I’m sure a bunch of executives are kicking themselves for not choosing to go up against Couples Retreat.

2. Zombieland: $17 million

Zombieland scored with both critics and audiences this past weekend and that can only mean good things for its sophomore session. I don’t think it can have the remarkable 19% hold that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs did its second weekend out but I would predict a strong hold for this Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg character story that just happens to feature a slew of flesh-eating zombies.

3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: $11 million

With close to 30% of kids out of school on Monday for Columbus Day, Cloudy and Toy Story are going to benefit on Sunday. Cloudy has already earned $83 million for its three weeks in release and this weekend could see it closing in on the $100 million mark. Which is really what should be expected from the movie’s pitch-perfect marketing campaign and great word-of-mouth.

4. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D: $8 million

The fact that this re-release has grossed some $14 million in its first week  just shows the power of Pixar. The two movies are only in 1,700 theaters and the combined run time is over 3 hours, limiting the number of shows for moviegoers. It’s likely the double feature will drop a minimal 30% this weekend, fueling Disney’s fires that this kind of experiment really works. Look out for more 3-D re-releases from the Mouse House. It only makes sense.

5. Paranormal Activity: $3 million

Okay, this is a long shot but Paramount is expanding this do-it-yourself home movie to 159 theaters across the country. And considering the only way to get the movie in your town is to lobby for it, it’s already got a built-in fan base. If everyone shows up who requested the movie, it’s possible the horror flick could reach the top 5. And wouldn’t that be cool? Not just for the fans but for all those micro-budget filmmakers who dream of making it big one day.

Also opening: the beloved indie flick An Education; Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, and Michael Sheen’s The Damned United.

Photo Credit: John Johnson