By Joshua Rich
February 06, 2009 at 09:59 PM EST

It’s a wide-open weekend at the box office, as four new movies are set to dominate. Leading the way will be The Pink Panther 2 and He’s Just Not That Into You, while the 3-D animated Coraline should also draw a family crowd, and the sci-fi thriller Push will go for, like, teens. Here’s how I see the year’s latest super-tight race playing out.

1. The Pink Panther 2 — $24 million
Technically, this film should be called The Pink Panther 9, but since the movie gods decided to pretend that all those Peter Sellers flicks never happened and Steve Martin’s 2006 entry was the first in a new series, I guess this title works. Anyway, that last installment opened at $20.2 mil and went on to earn $82.2 mil domestically, so even if part deux gets no new viewers, it should fare a bit better this weekend, given how ticket prices have gone up during the past three years and whatnot.

2. He’s Just Not That Into You — $22 million
Speaking of titles, here’s one that’s begging for a pun after the movie opens, depending on how it fares. As everybody knows, the name of the flick comes from a self-improvement book that’s inspired by a line in Sex and the City. Of course, I’m not sure how catchy the title is. But, then again, I’m a guy, so maybe I’m just not supposed to be that into this star-studded romantic-comedy (featuring Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, and other boldface names). Certainly, the ladies will be lining up — just as they did for last summer’s blockbuster Sex and the City and the recent Bride Wars, which debuted with a nice $21.1 mil. And they may well be all that HJNTIY needs.

3. Coraline — $14 million
Based on the Neil Gaiman story, directed by Henry Selick of James and the Giant Peach fame, featuring a character voiced by Dakota Fanning, and screening in 3-D, this stop-motion animated flick will compete with The Pink Panther 9, er, 2 for the family flock.

4. Taken — $13 million
The revenge action thriller enjoyed a big bow. So does that make Liam Neeson the next Steven Seagal?

5. Push — $11 million
Hey, Dakota Fanning’s in this sci-fi movie, too! (What is this, 2005?) The actress stars alongside fellow kid-faves Chris Evans and Camilla Belle (and Josh-fave Djimon Hounsou), all of whom play a bunch of young Americans who have supernatural powers and are involved in some sort of international intrigue in Hong Kong. In box office terms, it’s sorta like Jumper (which opened almost exactly a year ago with $27.4 mil)…but in 1,115 fewer theaters and courtesy of an indie studio.

Now, hit me with your predictions…

More Box Office News:

Box Office Report: Taken scores a touchdown’s Box Office Chart
Paul Blart edges out Underworld 3 to win the weekend

Paul Blart: Mall Cop wins the weekend
Gran Torino drives away with a win


addCredit(“Peter Iovino”)