February 04, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

Something’s gotta give, friends! The box office is in a bit of a rut. Except for Ben Stiller and his slapping monkey, nobody has really stepped up during the past several weeks. Already a month old, 2007 has just one lone success story, Stomp the Yard (the $14 million movie has earned nearly $52 mil in 21 days). Many Oscar contenders have wound up box-office pretenders (take a bow, Dreamgirls). And the future is murky.

So can we turn things around this weekend? I’m not so sure. Considering how stale some of its competitors are, the newest Diane Keaton rom-com, Because I Said So, won’t have to earn much to be No. 1. Good thing, since the Super Bowl will likely intercept a lot of attention. But after Because I Said So ekes out a victory in its premiere, will it be able to hang on for a few weeks and become the second cinematic success story of 2007? Ah, there’s the rub. Anyway, what do you think? Who’ll be No. 1? Last week, 56 percent of you correctly predicted that Epic Movie would win. How about giving it another shot below?


Because I Said So
Universal · PG-13 · 2,526 theaters · NEW
A quarter century after Annie Hall made Diane Keaton a superstar, Something’s Gotta Give proved that she still had some box-office clout. That film opened in December 2003 with $16.1 mil and went on to earn a whopping $124.7 mil domestically. Of course, Keaton had a lot of help from Jack Nicholson there and, not surprisingly, her follow-up, 2005’s The Family Stone, was down a bit ($12.5 mil debut; $60.1 mil total). So what does it all mean for this comedy, in which Keaton plays mom to Mandy Moore and potential love interest to 7th Heaven‘s Stephen Collins? Well, for one thing, Collins isn’t Jack Nicholson. And then there’s Moore’s iffy box-office track record (her biggest live-action hit was 2002’s A Walk to Remember, which earned $41.3 mil). So, once again, DiKeat is very much on her own. But I’m keeping the faith.
Weekend prediction: $14 million

The Messengers
Screen Gems · PG-13 · 2,528 theaters · NEW
No, not The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. And no, not The Message, the story of Mohammed. This is The Messengersmessengerzzzzz — a horror movie having to do with a family on a sunflower farm in North Dakota. It comes from Hong Kong’s Pang Brothers, Oxide and Danny, the nice young men behind the cult hit The Eye. Now, ordinarily, this would be the weekend winner, hands down. Popular filmmakers. Popular actors (including TV hunks Dylan McDermott and John Corbett). Popular producer (Sam Raimi). Popular genre — oh, wait. Yeah, no. Horror movies, as I’ve reported in recent weeks, are hurtin’. Especially those of the softer, PG-13 variety, like this one (The Grudge 2, for example, made just $39.1 mil last fall). So I’m staying conservative on my estimate. Hey, I’m just the messenger here.
Weekend prediction: $12 million

Epic Movie
Fox · PG-13 · 2,840 theaters · 2nd weekend
After an impressive $18.6 mil bow, the spoof did okay during the week, earning more than $600,000 per day. Movies of its ilk, however, tend to fall off fast, no matter how big they open: Last year, Scary Movie 4 dropped 58 percent on its second weekend and Date Movie dropped 52 percent. Look for this one to follow suit.
Weekend prediction: $9 million

Smokin’ Aces
Universal · R · 2,219 theaters · 2nd weekend
Director Joe Carnahan’s trippy shoot-’em-up scored a surprisingly strong second-place finish last weekend, with $14.7 mil, and it has been blowing away its rivals throughout the week, nearing a million bucks per day. With no direct competition, it stands to hang on for another go.
Weekend prediction: $8 million

Night at the Museum
Fox · PG · 3,003 theaters · 7th weekend
It’ll jump past No. 54 Mrs. Doubtfire ($219.2 mil) on the all-time domestic earners list this weekend. Why? Because I said so.
Weekend prediction: $7 million

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