Aaliyah's ''Queen'' will rule the weekend. Expect the late R&B singer's ''Queen of the Damned'' to outdraw Kevin Costner, Denzel Washington, and Britney Spears
Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, ...

Will the Queen of the Damned reign at the box office? Count on it. Six months after the death of the film’s star, R&B singer Aaliyah, the Anne Rice-inspired thriller ”Queen of the Damned” hits 2400-plus theaters. And despite its R rating, it should have no trouble matching (or topping) the intakes of fellow songstresses Mandy and Britney. Warner Bros. has promoted the film aggressively — never once mentioning the passing of its leading lady — so movie audiences are certainly well-hyped. Goth fans and curiosity seekers should turn out to the tune of about $16 million.

Dropping a notch to second place will likely be Denzel Washington’s hostage drama ”John Q,” which opened impressively over the holiday weekend. Though panned by most critics for what they termed its melodrama and manipulation, the film has been received very well by audiences, so strong word of mouth will lead to a small (30 percent or so) decline to $14 million.

The weekend’s other big debut is the Kevin Costner mystical drama ”Dragonfly,” in which he plays a doctor who believes his late wife is trying to contact him from the other side. Another film that will earn better reviews from moviegoers than from critics, ”Dragonfly” seems similar to last month’s Richard Gere thriller ”The Mothman Prophecies.” But it’s not as dark as that entry, so look for it to gross around $12 million, just beating ”Mothman”’s $11.2 million.

Rounding out the top five should be two younger draws: Britney Spears’ road-trip drama ”Crossroads” and Disney’s Peter Pan tale ”Return to Never Land.” Both will follow up strong openings with another $9 million or so. With Mel Gibson’s brutal Vietnam film ”We Were Soldiers” just a week away, audiences should get their fill of happy-go-lucky product now.

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