Hollywood's $15 million lady should top the box office. Reese Witherspoon's ''Sweet Home Alabama'' will likely outearn the duo of Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt

By Dave Karger
September 27, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Reese Witherspoon’s new ”Sweet Home”? At the top of the box office charts.

Hollywood’s hottest leading lady returns this weekend with “Sweet Home Alabama,” which should give the 26-year-old star her biggest opening yet. Last year’s “Legally Blonde” surprised many by opening with $20.6 million on its way to a total of almost $100 million (earning the star a $15 million payday for ”Legally Blonde 2”). Thanks to all the buzz on Witherspoon — and a 3,200-theater release — “Sweet Home,” which won’t earn reviews as strong as “Blonde’s,” still stands to top its debut. Expect Reese’s piece of the box office this weekend to be about $24 million.

The week’s other new wide release, “The Tuxedo,” should have no trouble claiming second place. The latest action comedy from Jackie Chan, “Tuxedo” has the added draw of Jennifer Love Hewitt as Chan’s partner-in-spy. While offering nothing groundbreaking, the flick has a built-in audience of action fans, and its PG-13 rating will insure that most of them see the film. “The Tuxedo” should be a decent fit with $15 million.

The race for third place could be tight between last week’s No. 1, “Barbershop,” and the smash “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” A 40 percent fall for “Barbershop” and a 15 percent slip for “Greek Wedding” will result in $8 million weekends for both.

Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon stand to round out the top five with “The Banger Sisters,” which could decline 40 percent to $6 million, continuing to beat Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, whose “The Four Feathers” saw only one almost-famous week in the top five.

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