Feeling merry? Disney and Robert Zemeckis sure hope so as they prepare to unload the technologically obsessed filmmaker’s vision of Dickens’ classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol, in over 3,500 theaters (2,000 of which will be 3-D). Carol starring Jim Carrey may be Zemeckis’ most successful debut using his beloved motion-capture technology — which seems to have finally overcome the “hollowed eyes” criticism that befell his earlier attempts like Polar Express and Beowulf. Now it’s really just going to come down to how many people are ready for some Christmas spirit this early in the fall season. (Some of us still haven’t disposed of our jack-o’-lantern remains.) For those who aren’t fully committed to yuletide cheer, two horror movies hit the pipeline this weekend, Richard Kelly’s The Box starring Cameron Diaz and The Fourth Kind with Milla Jovovich. But if you’re still having nightmares from Paranormal Activity, George Clooney is here to save you again, this time in the antiwar satire The Men Who Stare at Goats. Read on for my predictions.

1. A Christmas Carol: $41 million

Zemeckis’ last two motion-capture features, Beowulf and The Polar Express, opened to $27 million and $23 million. And while Beowulf was a retelling of a classic story it didn’t have the star power of a Jim Carrey behind it or the broad audience reach of Carol. Look to this holiday film to outgross Zemeckis’ previous efforts and stay in theaters for a good long time.

2. This is It: $11 million

In North America, the Michael Jackson biopic may not have made the crazy amount of money that was predicted but it has performed pretty well. More importantly, it’s a movie people really like, which defends Sony’s decision to extend its theatrical run through Thanksgiving. My guess is it drops less than 50% this frame and will eventually get to $200 million worldwide.

3. Paranormal Activity: $10 million

It’s made $87 million already and there is really no reason why it can’t get to $100 million. This weekend should bring it closer. Despite competition from The Box and The Fourth Kind, Paranormal is the one with all the buzz so it’s likely more moviegoers will check it out. Expect a 40% drop this weekend.

Clooney and comedy don’t always mix. His Ocean’s movies are outsized successes but films like Leatherheads and Welcome to Collinwood fall into the disaster column. Where will The Men Who Stare at Goats wind up? Likely somewhere in the middle. EW’s critic may have hated the film but others haven’t been as cruel. Whether it crosses the $10 million mark is the real question here. My guess is it won’t but I would love to be proved wrong.

5. The Box/The Fourth Kind: $8 million

Neither of these newcomers seems to be resonating with audiences. The star power of Cameron Diaz has not incited more moviegoers to head to her flick, and The Fourth Kind seems derivative of Paranormal. My guess is these two films will be duking it out for the fifth slot. Cameron Diaz may have to rethink her future movie choices. Between The Box and this summer’s weepie My Sister’s Keeper it has been a dry run at the box office. It’s likely that her role in The Green Hornet and her current project Knight and Day opposite Tom Cruise will turn things around.

Also in theaters: Precious bows in limited release. While the subject matter is tough the film is worth checking out. I’m no critic but the performances are brilliant.

Photo Credit: John Bramley