Will audiences buy the ''Matrix''-style action of ''Ballistic''? Antonio Bandaras and Lucy Liu will engage in theater-to-theater combat with the gang from ''Barbershop''

By Dave Karger
September 20, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Balllistic: Ecks Vs. Sever: Alan Markfeld

With four new wide releases hitting theaters and two audience favorites returning, this is the toughest box office weekend to predict so far this year. But heck, we’ll try anyway.

Perhaps the most surefire moneymaker of the week’s new entries is ”Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever,” an unfortunately named thriller featuring ”Charlie’s Angels” star Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas. While it doesn’t stand to make ”Charlie’s” bucks, it should have no trouble attracting young fans hungry for a fix of ”Matrix”-style action. ”Ballistic” could end up the weekend’s No. 1 film with a debut in the $12 million range.

But ”Barbershop” will also put up a fight. The Ice Cube comedy, which topped the charts last weekend with a $20.6 opening, has been performing well during the week and could see a drop of only 40 percent, which would also result in a $12 million weekend.

Another promising newcomer is ”The Four Feathers,” a sprawling war epic starring Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, and Kate Hudson. Ledger and Hudson have been working overtime, promoting the film from Toronto to Los Angeles to New York, but critical reception has been decidedly mixed. Still, fans of Heath (and fans of big battle scenes) abound, so an $11 million opening weekend seems in order.

That would push ”My Big Fat Greek Wedding” back to fourth place, as the smash comedy dips to $9 million and brings its running total near the $125 million mark.

Rounding out the top five could be one of the week’s two other debuts: ”The Banger Sisters,” the ex-groupie comedy starring Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn (competing against daughter Hudson in ”Four Feathers”), or ”Trapped,” the kidnapping thriller featuring Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, and Courtney Love.

While Sarandon and Hawn have also been making the PR rounds, the ”Trapped” cast has been virtually MIA in the weeks leading up to the film’s release, perhaps leery of plugging a movie about the kidnapping of a small child when similar stories dominate the nightly news. Still, both films could premiere with an identical $8 million by providing audiences with very different types of thrills.

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