But Mark Wahlberg's heavy-metal comedy won't be an ''Apes''-size blockbuster
Mark Wahlberg, Rock Star

So you wanna see a ”Rock Star”? Your wait is over. Fresh from fighting sadistic simians in ”Planet of the Apes,” newly minted A-lister Mark Wahlberg returns with his second big-ticket film in two months. And while he shouldn’t expect a record-breaking opening along the lines of ”Apes,” he’ll be helped this time by an equally famous costar — Jennifer Aniston — and a truly irresistible movie concept.

In this comedy/musical, Wahlberg is a daydreaming heavy-metal cover band singer who lives out his fantasy when his favorite hair band invites him to join them as their new lead vocalist. Warner Bros. has created a fun and engaging marketing campaign — its advertisements are so effective, you can’t help imagine yourself in the hero’s position — that has done a good job of enticing moviegoers. Look for ”Rock Star” to top the weekend box office with a rockin’ $12-15 million.

The weekend’s other wide new release is ”The Musketeer,” the latest remake of the Dumas tale, which comes on the heels of the Brat Pack/Chris O’Donnell/Disney flick in 1993 and ”The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998), starring a post-”Titanic” Leonardo di Caprio. While certainly not an original idea, ”Musketeer” will benefit from a built-in audience for straightforward action films — and an impressive supporting cast that includes Catherine Deneuve, Tim Roth (”Planet of the Apes”), and Mena Suvari (”American Pie 2”). With a theater count (2,434) almost as high as that of ”Rock Star” (2,525), ”Musketeer” should fight its way to No. 2 with $9-11 million.

The relationship comedy ”Two Can Play That Game,” starring Vivica A. Fox (”Soul Food”) and Morris Chestnut, will prove that three can play the box office game, coming in third with $7-9 million. Recent, similarly themed entries like ”The Brothers” and ”The Best Man,” both of which starred Chestnut, have shown that films with mostly African-American casts also have a loyal first weekend following, and ”Two” should be no exception.

Rounding out the top five will be last week’s top film, the slasher flick ”Jeepers Creepers”(the gore-friendly audience should drop off drastically in the film’s second weekend), and the enduring ”Rush Hour 2.” Both movies are likely to bring in $5-7 million.

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Jeepers Creepers
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