By Joshua Rich
Updated January 16, 2009 at 10:01 PM EST

This weekend is almost as far away from the 2010 Oscar season as possible — so it’s no wonder that the multiplex marquee resembles the bargain bin at your local Blockbuster! Sure enough, the four new movies make for an eclectic mix, but only one can come out on top. Here’s how I see this Martin Luther King holiday frame playing out. (And take note: You may not have to work/go to school on Monday, but the following gross projections are for the usual Friday-to-Sunday period.)

1. My Bloody Valentine 3D — $23 million
The Unborn fared much better than expected last weekend, grossing $19.8 mil in its spine-tingling debut. So can this scary movie remake (pictured) do just as well? Absolutely! Why? Because, as one of many 3-D films due to be released this year, My Bloody Valentine will be playing in hundreds of theaters that are going to charge filmgoers even more than the usual arm and leg. Fair or not, higher ticket prices mean bigger box office.

2. Hotel for Dogs — $21 million
Canine movies had plenty to bark about in 2008 (ugh, you’re not alone: I just groaned at myself, too!), with audiences throwing Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Bolt, and Marley & Me big box office bones (ugh, again!). The average first-weekend take of those three flicks: $30.6 mil. Now, this movie — starring Emma Roberts and Don Cheadle — may come in a bit lower than that, considering all of its human/awards-season competition. But, still, I see no reason why the trend should stop now.

3. Gran Torino — $18 million
With a huge $29.5 mil debut under his belt, clearly, Clint Eastwood is still the man. And his action-drama could wind up with another weekend win, if all the freshman flicks fall flat.

4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop — $15 million
If the title confuses you, here’s the plot of this broad comedy: Kevin James plays a mall cop named Paul Blart. Better? Good.

5. Notorious — $12 million
The long-anticipated Notorious B.I.G. biopic finally hits theaters this weekend. Starring Angela Bassett, Derek Luke, Anthony Mackie, and newcomer Jamal Woolard as Biggie himself, the film should fare well — and confuse the hell out of excited cinephiles who buy tickets to the show…only to realize when the lights go down that it wasn’t directed by Alfred Hitchcock.


Last Chance Harvey — $10 million
You could call this charmer starring dual dual-Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson a middle-aged romance, except that Hoffman is 71 while Thompson is just 49. I call that a little bit creepy. And a double standard. (But, hey, it’s Hollywood!)

Defiance — $10 million
The latest from underrated (yet, yes, Oscar-owning) auteur Edward Zwick details the experiences of four Polish brothers who fought back against the Nazis in World War II, saving more than 1,000 Jews. Featuring James Bond with an Eastern European accent.

But what do you think? Hit me with your weekend picks below.

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