January 09, 2009 at 10:00 PM EST

The new year is already nine days old, but this weekend truly begins the 2009 box office schedule, with a full slate of freshman flicks on tap. Leading the way, no doubt, will be the Anne Hathaway-Kate Hudson comedy Bride Wars — the farce should have an easy time slaying horror newcomer The Unborn, as well as the wide expansion of Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino. Or will fan favorite Marley & Me bark up another victory? My picks are below.

1. Bride Wars — $23 million
With last summer’s blockbuster Get Smart and a possible Oscar nod for Rachel Getting Married, Anne Hathaway’s star continues to rise. And Kate Hudson rebounded nicely about a year ago with Fool’s Gold, after suffering a bit of a career decline. Add in the fact that a wedding-themed title is even more potent catnip to viewers than a marquee bearing the word “Christmas,” and we should have ourselves a big winner. Look for the film to premiere with a sum that falls somewhere between Fool’s Gold‘s $21.6 mil bow and The Devil Wears Prada‘s $27.5 mil opening.

2. Gran Torino — $16 million
Playing for four weeks in fewer than 100 theaters, Clint Eastwood’s latest action drama has already grossed more than $10 mil. As he approaches 80 years old, the star appears to be more bankable than ever.

3. Marley & Me — $15 million
With $111 mil and counting, the big pooch at the box office keeps growing. Just like my sister-in-law’s awesome new Bernese mountain dog, the beast!

4. Bedtime Stories — $13 million
Adam Sandler’s latest comedy should become his third straight $100 million grosser — and second of 2008. Dude is about to have 10 for his career, too.

5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button — $12 million
Brad Pitt’s latest drama should also cross the century mark soon, making it the seventh $100 mil grosser on his C.V. More heartening: The fact that people have turned out in droves for a nearly three-hour drama. Too bad that wasn’t the case with Pitt’s last sweeping endeavor, the sadly underseen The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.


The Unborn — $11 million
Horror movies all open in the same general box office range. Even ones with scary-as-f— trailers, like this one’s.

Not Easily Broken — $2 million
Bill Duke’s take on T.D. Jakes’ novel of the same title features why-didn’t-he-ever-become-a-bigger-star Morris Chestnut and Benjamin Button Oscar candidate Taraji P. Henson. Could fare well in just 724 venues.

Now, how do you see the weekend playing out? Weigh in with your picks below.

More Box Office News:
Batman was a blockbuster, but did 2008 bomb?
EW.com’s Box Office Chart
Marley & Me wins for a second straight week
Marley & Me leads the Christmas box office
Yes Man is No. 1 in its debut

addCredit(“Claire Folger”)

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