By Nicole Sperling
May 27, 2010 at 11:18 PM EDT

Image Credit: Craig BlankenhornWho knew Memorial Day weekend would be your chance to travel to the Middle East? Such is the case with the box office fare Hollywood has provided us this holiday weekend. The weekend’s outcome will be determined by which desert-set film you choose: Go the testosterone action-adventure route and Jake Gyllenhaal’s video game adaptation Prince of Persia wins your vote. Or if you’re in the mood for designer clothes set against an Arabian back drop, choose the Sex and the City girls, who are at it again, this time in Morocco, thinly veiled as Abu Dhabi. Either way, Hollywood is looking for a big weekend to bolster the soft summer start at the movies. Read on for my predictions for the four-day holiday frame.

1. Shrek Forever After: $50 million

The final chapter in the $1 billion franchise didn’t perform as well as its predecessors, but that doesn’t mean Shrek Forever After won’t perform solidly its second weekend in theaters. With young kids aged out of PG-13 rated Prince of Persia, and Sex and the City likely to generate a good chunk of the box office on Thursday night, expect families to dominate the box office this weekend with their first choice Shrek.

2. Sex and the City 2: $45 million

The follow-up to the 2008 smash hit is getting pummeled by critics, but that shouldn’t stop Sex and the City 2 from having a fabulous opening weekend. As one woman said to me, “I didn’t even really like the series but it feels like I’m missing out on a cultural moment if I don’t go.” As sad a reflection on our culture as that may be, Carrie Bradshaw donning couture is now considered a moment for women. As such, women are going to get in there quickly with a Thursday that could go as high as $13 million. The number won’t count into their weekend take, meaning they won’t dominate the charts but the sequel will still wind up grossing close to $60 million over the five-day period.

3. Prince of Persia: $40 million

Earning comparisons to The Mummy franchise and National Treasure, Prince of Persia seems to have the big ol’ escapist fun that moviegoers love during the summer. I don’t think Gyllenhaal will be much of a draw himself, but the high-concept plot based on the popular video game should draw in a wide swath of the movie-going public. With women going to Sex, and families going to Shrek, Persia gets the boys.

4. Iron Man 2: $17 million

The Robert Downey Jr. sequel has grossed over $250 million after three weekends in release. This weekend, expect its drop-off to stabilize with more available moviegoers around. And another $17 million won’t hurt the film’s quest for $300 million at all.

5. Robin Hood: $12 million

Yes, it’s a hit internationally, but this expensive Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe pairing still won’t have crossed the $100 million mark in its third weekend of release. Expect a 30 percent drop-off from the $18 million three-day number last weekend for this frame’s four-day number. Good thing he’s such a hero overseas.

Check back this weekend for a full report. Happy holidays.