Evolution: Murray Close
June 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Pearl Harbor” faces another attack this weekend — but this time the enemy is extraterrestrial. The WWII epic, which has banked more than $125 million since opening May 25, is likely to surrender its No. 1 post on the movie chart to the PG-13 sci-fi comedy ”Evolution,” which stars David Duchovny (”The X-Files”), Julianne Moore (”Hannibal”), and Orlando Jones (”The Replacements”).

The effects-heavy alien-invasion flick should earn $25 million, according to Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking firm Reel Source. He says the film’s teen-friendly rating and irreverent humor are likely to appeal to hordes of summer-breaking high schoolers who ”are going to be looking for something — anything — to do.” Moreover, the comedy bears a resemblance to previous blockbusters like 1984’s ”Ghostbusters” (Domestic gross: $238 million) and 1997’s ”Men in Black” ($201.6 million). ”It’s a special-effects movie that’s also kind of silly, with Duchovny making the little wink-wink line about not trusting the FBI,” says Gitesh Pandya of box officeguru.com. ”It’s definitely going to get the 12-to-18-year-olds.”

”Shrek” should remain at No. 2 for a third weekend, adding another $22 million to its $150.1 million haul. ”’Shrek”s become bigger than anything the studio ever imagined,” says Pandya, who thinks the film could challenge ”Evolution” for the No. 1 spot. ”You can analyze it a thousand different ways, but the reason is simple: It’s a good movie, people are talking about it, and everyone wants to see it.”

The R-rated John Travolta hacker thriller ”Swordfish” should earn $19 million to finish at No. 3. The high-tech computer-heist film will benefit from its roster of big-name stars — Travolta, Halle Berry, and ”X-Men”’s Hugh Jackman — and high-testosterone trailers. But its mature content will limit its potential audience. ”Adults aren’t as interested in computer related stuff as kids, and teenagers can’t see the movie,” says Bucksbaum.

”Pearl Harbor” is likely to sink to No. 4 with $18 million. ”People are going to see ‘Shrek’ over and over again,” says Bucksbaum. ”But ‘Pearl Harbor’ is too long for people to see it more than once. They’re drained after that three hours.”

Meanwhile, the Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor musical ”Moulin Rouge” is also benefiting from strong word of mouth after its $13.7 million debut in wide release last weekend. The song-and-dance spectacle from ”Romeo + Juliet” director Baz Luhrmann will battle the Rob Schneider comedy ”The Animal” for the No. 5 spot. Both films are expected to earn between $11 and $12 million. ”In the larger cities where ‘Moulin’ is popular, people are actually standing up to cheer at the end of the movie,” says Bucksbaum. ”Usually you could sell ice cream in Antarctica before getting small town Americans to go see a musical. But they’re eventually going to catch on to this one.” Ice cream in Antarctica? Don’t give Lurhmann any big ideas.

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