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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A couple of film characters adept at martial arts and anatomy-defying leg splits face off at movie theaters this weekend.
DreamWorks Animation's family feature "Kung Fu Panda," features a voice cast including Jack Black and Angelina Jolie, while Adam Sandler stars in the Sony comedy "You Don't Mess With the Zohan." Both are considered potential candidates to replace "Sex and the City" atop the domestic box office.
"Panda" looks like a lock to ring up at least $40 million domestically. "Zohan," whose star plays an Israeli commando-turned-New York hairdresser, should bow with at least $35 million but could spar with "Panda" for the frame's top spot if appeal proves broader than the male-skewing fan base for most Sandler releases.
"Men of all ages are totally up for it, (and) women have become enlisted as we have continued the campaign," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said.
Indeed, executives at Paramount, which distributes DreamWorks Animation releases, aren't ready to start polishing the weekend gold medal just yet.
"I think they're going to be neck and neck," Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said of the frame's wide openers.
There are at least a couple of historical comparisons for each of the No. 1 wannabes.
"Panda" compares with DreamWorks' May 2006 family comedy "Over the Hedge," which bowed to $38.5 million en route to $155 million domestically, and June 2007's Pixar/Disney film "Ratatouille," which opened with $47 million and grossed $206.4 million all told.
"Zohan" will be measured against Sandler's June 2006 comedy "Click," which Sony debuted with $40 million on the way to $137.4 domestically.
Meanwhile, "Sex and the City" should finish third with $25 million or so, just ahead of the waning "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."