Johnny Depp and Heather Graham's London murder mystery should outdraw Drew Barrymore's bittersweet teenage Mom, says Dave Karger

By Dave Karger
October 18, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Three double-digit openings this weekend? That’s virtually guaranteed. But how exactly will they win, place, and show? Continuing October’s strong box office performance, new films from Johnny Depp, Robert Redford, and Drew Barrymore will hit thousands of movie screens, drawing every type of movie fan.

Perhaps the most enticing of the trio will be the period thriller ”From Hell,” starring Depp as an British inspector investigating the 19th Century Jack the Ripper murders and Heather Graham as a prostitute in danger of becoming the killer’s next victim. It’s certainly gory, but dark films are still outperforming comedies and romances lately (witness ”Don’t Say A Word” and ”Training Day”). If Depp could propel ”Sleepy Hollow” to blockbuster status, he should draw large amounts of fans to hell. Expect the movie to top the charts with around $18 million.

Second place should go to the ”Riding in Cars with Boys,” a bittersweet drama starring Barrymore as a teenage mom struggling to raise her young son. Barrymore has proved an undeniable draw with films like ”Never Been Kissed” and ”Charlie’s Angels,” and ”Cars” boasts the widest release of the weekend (2,770 theaters). Between her ”Saturday Night Live” appearance and numerous other promotional duties, the public is definitely aware of the film. ”Cars” should go from zero to $13 million in three days.

”The Last Castle,” meanwhile, features the strong duo of Redford and ”Sopranos” star James Gandolfini, who play a military prisoner and a despotic warden, respectively. The pairing is great, but buzz on the film isn’t. Redford and Gandolfini haven’t exactly been breaking their backs promoting the film (Redford is said to have chosen next month’s ”Spy Game” with Brad Pitt as the film he’ll support more strongly). Still, pure star power should muscle an $11 million debut.

And a week after fighting for No. 1, Denzel Washington’s ”Training Day” and Bruce Willis’ ”Bandits” will round out the top five. ”Training Day,” which eked out last weekend’s victory, has also been playing better during the week (on Tuesday it earned $1.3 million to ”Bandits”’ $1.0 million). Expect each film to fall 35-40 percent to $9 and $8 million, respectively, taking the fourth and fifth spots. Hey, that’s still pretty good pay for playing cops and robbers.

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