June 11, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

This weekend may teach us a lot about the evolving movie business. If The Hangover can prevent the Denzel Washington-John Travolta two-hander from taking the number one slot, will comedy officially trump celebrity? And when Eddie Murphy’s family flick Imagine That grosses in the single digits will Murphy be forced, yet again, to reinvent himself in order to save a stalled film career? It’s box office preview time, folks, and we are here once again to predict the unpredictable. Grosses, that is. Check out my prognostications below.

1. The Hangover: $31 million

With last weekend’s surprise R-rated comedy hit doing phenomenal mid-week business–its M/T/W take has been an unbelievable $20 million–Warner Bros is poised for a second weekend in the number one slot. The studio has even added theaters to its count, hoping to secure that top spot for its sophomore session. 

Sony has done a last minute advertising blitz with this Tony Scott-directed actioner so it could gross more than originally predicted. Targeting its male audience during baseball and the NBA finals is a smart move but will that demographic come out on opening weekend? They are crucial for the film to deliver and if they fail to show up, Up could take the second spot for a second weekend. 

3. Up: $26.4 million

The film has grossed $151 million and with more kids getting out of school, that number is destined to keep moving upward. It’s likely to soar past Ratatouille‘s $206 million for total domestic gross but whether or not it will reach as high as Wall-E’s $223 million remains to be seen. 

4. Land of the Lost: $9 million

Let’s hope for Will Farrell’s sake that the Brad Silberling-directed film drops only 50% its second weekend in theaters. Even if it’s just so he can come back to promote another movie. Because really, his promotion is guaranteed to be a good time, even if his movies seem to be getting worse every time. Lost has only grossed $24 million since opening last weekend. 

5. Imagine That: $8.5 million

It’s going to be a tough weekend for former movie stars. Tracking is suggesting that only moms and their kids are interested in Eddie Murphy’s family comedy, and unfortunately, that interest is pretty meek. It seems that the family audience is rather sated with a plethora of fare — Up, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian — that they really aren’t looking for another take on the absent-dad-makes-good theme that’s suggested in Imagine That. Maybe it will surprise us, but reviews have been mediocre and that’s never a good sign when moms are making the movie-going decisions.

addCredit(“Hangover: Frank Masi”)

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