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Hall-Pass

Image Credit: Peter IovinoFirst, a quick update about last week’s box office. When the final results came in, Unknown finished the Presidents’ Day weekend in first with $25.5 million, but Gnomeo & Juliet trailed it by only $37,298. That’s the closest photo finish since the weekend of Aug. 11-13, 2000, when Hollow Man beat Space Cowboys by $31,684. As for this weekend, don’t expect anything as remotely exciting as last weekend’s results. The R-rated comedy Hall Pass, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, should give directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly their first No. 1 opening since 2000’s Me, Myself and Irene. And the frame’s only other new release, the R-rated Drive Angry, will attract a decent amount of violence-craving men who couldn’t care less about watching my personal Super Bowl, i.e. the Academy Awards. Prediction time:

1. Hall Pass: $16 million

It’s been four long years since the Farrelly brothers’ last film, the Ben Stiller flop The Heartbreak Kid. The filmmaking duo will be hoping that Hall Pass, about two guys (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) who are granted a week off from their respective marriages, marks something of a comeback. But Wilson hasn’t headlined a box-office hit since 2008’s Marley and Me, and this represents the most prominent movie role to date for SNL‘s Sudeikis. However, there also hasn’t been a raunchy R-rated comedy aimed at guys since last November’s Due Date, so Hall Pass will be serving a neglected niche. Figure the modestly budgeted ($36 million) movie to open slightly better than 2007’s The Heartbreak Kid, which debuted in second place to $14 million.

2. Gnomeo & Juliet: $14 million

The gnomes are unstoppable. Last weekend this G-rated Disney flick dropped only 25 percent. With no new family competition this weekend, I see no reason why the animated musical shouldn’t slip the same amount this weekend, too.

3. Unknown: $13 million

2009’s Taken declined a remarkably slim 17 percent its second weekend, but despite Unknown‘s surprise victory last weekend, the PG-13 thriller is unlikely to hold up as well as its stylistic mentor. A 40-percent drop seems more reasonable.

4. Drive Angry: $12 million

Drive Angry stars Nicolas Cage as a felon who escapes from Hell (apparently it’s not that difficult) to avenge his daughter’s death. The $50 million movie has little chance of reversing the actor’s recent box-office misfortune. Cage’s last film, January’ssupernatural thriller Season of the Witch, summoned $10.6 million its first weekend, and last year’s big-budget The Sorcerer’s Apprentice could only muster a debut of $17.6 million. To compute Drive Angry‘s opening tally, take Season of the Witch, add in Drive Angry‘s 3-D price boost (about 97 percent of the movie’s 2,290 theaters are projecting it in 3-D), and account for its more restrictive R rating. Voilà, $12 million.

5. Just Go With It: $10 million

The Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy fell a modest 39 percent last weekend. With a new comedic competitor in Hall Pass (and Nicolas Cage), this week’s drop should increase to, oh, about 45 percent. Just spitballing here.

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