But Russell Crowe's tale of a schizophrenic math genius will add more cash than George Clooney's heist flick
The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Credit: Lord of the Rings: Pierre Vinet

Let the battle between Russell Crowe and Frodo Baggins begin!

Okay, so there’s no way in Middle-earth that Crowe’s intellectual new drama ”A Beautiful Mind” will come close to topping ”The Lord of the Rings”’ $175 million-and-counting take, but the two films will be competing for many things over the next three months, from the No. 1 slot at the box office this weekend to Best Picture honors from the AFI, the Golden Globes, and, eventually, the Oscars. Regardless of what transpires at the new Kodak Theatre on March 24, round one will go to the Hobbit.

After earning $66.1 million and $58.1 million in its first two holiday weekends (a decline of only 12 percent), ”The Lord of Rings” is poised to break the $200 million mark this weekend. A relatively small drop of 30 percent would translate into another $27 million for the blockbuster and the top spot at the box office this weekend.

In fairness to Crowe, ”A Beautiful Mind” is expanding to only 1,885 theaters, compared to the 3,300-plus showing ”LOTR.” Still, critically acclaimed performances by Crowe as schizophrenic mathematician John Forbes Nash, and Jennifer Connelly as his wife, Alicia, should propel the film to a wide opening in the $18 million range.

After actually increasing its three-day take by 15 percent last weekend, the word-of-mouth phenomenon ”Ocean’s Eleven” will likely snag the third slot, falling just 35 percent to $11 million. Close behind should be the nicely-performing ”Ali” and ”Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” each with $10 million.

The lone true new entry of the week, the Gary Sinise sci-fi thriller ”Impostor,” will probably miss the top five, premiering with about $5 million. The flick was originally scheduled for a Dec. 25 release. Perhaps the folks at Dimension Films realized that putting out a film about sleeper-agent terrorists bent on destroying the planet wouldn’t be the most appropriate choice for Christmas Day.

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A Beautiful Mind
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes