Combine superheroes, light sabers, horses, murders, and J.Lo, and what do you get? Perhaps the most crowded movie weekend of the year.
Three big-studio films are set to premiere this Memorial Day weekend, but will any of them manage to loosen the stranglehold ”Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” and ”Spider-Man” have on the top two slots? Don’t bet on it.
Instead, the weekend will once again belong to the ”Clones.” Three years ago, ”Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” which also debuted the week before Memorial Day, IMPROVED 3 percent in its second weekend (granted, that was for a four-day weekend compared to a three-day one).
Since audiences seem to be responding to ”Attack of the Clones” very positively (as seen by its strong midweek performance), expect ”Episode II” to improve upon its $80 million three-day debut, bringing in another $85 million over the four-day holiday period — boosting its total to around $225 million.
Meanwhile, given the extra weekend day, ”Spider-Man” should see only a small dip from last weekend’s $46 million take. Another $40 million seems in order for the No. 2 spot, easily pushing the red guy past the $300 million mark.
As for the three debuts — the animated ”Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” Jennifer Lopez’s drama ”Enough,” and Al Pacino’s mystery ”Insomnia” — there could be a tight race for No. 3. ”Spirit” should take it because of the recent hot streak for family films (”Snow Dogs,” ”Ice Age,” ”The Rookie”), even though the film is said to be a bit dark and serious. The automatic kiddie audience should push the equine cartoon to a $25 million opening.
Close behind may be Lopez’s ”Enough,” in which she plays a mom being stalked by her estranged husband (”Once and Again”’s Billy Campbell). This one will be panned by most critics, but J. Lo fans aren’t likely to listen, flocking to their heroine to the tune of $18 million.
Completing the top five will be the best of the bunch, the murder thriller ”Insomnia,” starring three Oscar winners: Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. (Interestingly, Williams appears as the villain in the film.) The dream cast, combined with ”Memento” director Christopher Nolan, will draw the weekend’s cineasts but is unlikely to result in huge numbers. A $16 million start should merely be the beginning of a decent run for the flick. And if Williams is lucky, it will erase ”Death to Smoochy” from our collective memory.
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