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Box office preview: Long-awaited 'Shutter Island' likely to win the weekend

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This weekend we learn whether Paramount’s gamble will pay off. The studio decided last year to push its Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio thriller Shutter Island out of the crowded award season and into the new year where it could breathe a bit. Will the strategy work? Tracking results are suggesting yes, with the R-rated thriller likely to bow in the high 20s, a similar number to 2006’s Departed, which opened to $26.9 million. And with no other new wide releases opening this weekend, the well-reviewed film will have the weekend all to itself. Plus, with President’s Day generating such huge numbers last weekend, those releases are likely to fall off significantly in their second weekend in theaters. Read on for my predictions.

1. Shutter Island: $29 million

Opening in over 2,500 theaters, Shutter Island marks the first true prestige pic of 2010. And with films like Valentine’s Day and Wolfman generating impressive grosses despite terrible reviews, this well-liked movie should be rewarded for its quality. Shutter stars DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Michelle Williams, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.

2. Valentine’s Day: $22 million

Warner Bros. overestimated its Monday holiday gross by $3 million, suggesting that the film that drew in over $63 million its first weekend in theaters was already starting to fall off by the end of the weekend. Expect at least a 60 percent drop this frame, especially considering  how Valentine’s Day, the holiday, is already long gone from people’s minds.

3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: $19 million

There is very little in the marketplace for kids right now, which is good news for this Chris Columbus-directed film. The movie has already earned over $40 million and a 40% drop could mean Fox develops an appetite for a follow-up to this fantasy adventure based on the Rick Riordan novels.

4. Avatar: $17 million

A 30 percent drop is likely for this juggernaut, which has never fallen more than 27 percent since it bowed 10 weekends ago.

5. The Wolfman: $13

Yes, The Wolfman earned $35.6 million last weekend, but still, nobody really liked the movie. Critics panned it and moviegoers gave this reboot of the classic horror film a C+ in exit polls. Expect a steep drop this frame, especially considering it’s now up against the higher-caliber thriller Shutter Island.

Also: Summit Entertainment will open Roman Polanski’s Ghost Writer in four theaters; two in NY and two in LA.

Image credit: Andrew Cooper