''Next'' looks like an easy No. 1 this weekend, with thrillers ''The Invisible'' and ''Disturbia'' closing in behind

By Joshua Rich
Updated April 29, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Just one week left before the summer movie season kicks off, and big-money time can’t come soon enough, as far as I’m concerned. Knowing that it’ll be impossible to compete against juggernauts like Spider-Man 3, Hollywood has been dumping a lot of mediocre movies before the webslinger hits theaters on May 4th. The result has been several wacky weekends on which most of the new releases have seemed fairly indistinguishable from each other; it’s been terribly tough for me to accurately call a winner. Indeed, for two straight weeks I failed to pick Disturbia as the champ. And last weekend, 46 percent of you went along with my faulty expectation that Vacancy would be No. 1.

So whaddya say we end the spring with one last hurrah and get it right? I’m pretty confident that the Nicolas Cage vehicle Next will be the easy victor this time. Make your own guess in the poll below.

Paramount · PG-13 · 2,725 theaters · NEW
Thanks to the $115.6 million success of Ghost Rider, Cage has his mojo back after a few bleak years at the box office. That’s good news for this sci-fi action thriller, which is based on a Philip K. Dick story and features the star as a man who has the ability to see into the future. The supporting cast (Julianne Moore and current ”It” babe Jessica Biel) is solid, as is the behind-the-camera talent (director Lee Tamahori previously made the 007 hit Die Another Day). Sure, without a comic-book pedigree, it won’t get anywhere near the $45.4 mil that Ghost Rider debuted with in February. But a solid opening in the mid-teens should give it the win over middling competition.
Weekend prediction: $16 million

The Invisible
Hollywood · PG-13 · 2,019 theaters · NEW
Trailers for this remake of a Swedish thriller are intriguing: Justin Chatwin (War of the Worlds) plays a kid who dies and then, as a ghost, has to solve his own murder. Or something like that. Either way, it looks darn creepy. And maybe pretty cool. The question is whether audiences will be wooed into attending a star-free film that Disney’s Hollywood label hasn’t been screening for critics. Usually — though not always — the answer is no.
Weekend prediction: $10 million

Paramount · PG-13 · 3,047 theaters · 3rd weekend
In my defense, I may have neglected to foresee Shia LaBeouf’s repeat win at the box office, but I did hit its $13 mil take last weekend right on the nose. Good for me! Now, if it drops exactly 38.5 percent this time around (to bring its three-week total to about $50 mil), I’ll be two for two.
Weekend prediction: $8 million

The Condemned
Lionsgate · R · 2,310 theaters · NEW
Stone Cold Steve Austin stars in this action flick about a deadly reality game show, which basically plays like an update of the classic Schwarzenegger-Richard Dawson fable The Running Man. Sounds awesome, right? Well, maybe not: Critics are hating it (as of Thursday evening, The Condemned was scoring a dreadful 18 out of 100 on Metacritic.com). And recent films featuring erstwhile wrestlers, like John Cena’s The Marine ($7.2 mil opening) and The Rock’s Gridiron Gang ($14.4 mil opening), haven’t fared too well.
Weekend prediction: $7 million

New Line · R · 2,443 theaters · 2nd weekend
Its numbers aren’t huge, but the Anthony Hopkins-Ryan Gosling thriller has held on well after ceding its opening weekend to holdover Disturbia: Starting on Sunday, Fracture has been the top film all week, earning just under a million bucks per day. Yep, word of mouth works, even on a small scale.
Weekend prediction: $6 million


Kickin’ It Old Skool
Yari Film Group · PG-13 · 1,813 theaters · NEW
Jamie Kennedy plays a breakdancer stuck in the 1980s. Premiering with little buzz and on a moderate number of screens, look for his film to be stuck at the back of the pack.
Weekend prediction: $4 million

Box Office Poll