April 18, 2008 / 6:19 AM / in 9 years

Jackie Chan, Jet Li set for box office supremacy

<p>Jet Li and Jackie Chan in a scene from "The Forbidden Kingdom". REUTERS/Lionsgate Films</p>

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Action heroes Jackie Chan and Jet Li will grab the keys to the “Kingdom” at the North American box office this weekend.

“The Forbidden Kingdom,” a martial arts fantasy that marks their first onscreen pairing, is likely to bow at No. 1 with up to $20 million during its first three days.

“We’ll be very happy with a gross of $15 million or beyond, but tracking certainly indicates that we have a shot at doing in the high teens or better,” said Steve Rothenberg, president of distribution at Lionsgate, which is partnered on the project with the Weinstein Co.

“Kingdom,” directed by Rob Minkoff (“Stuart Little”), has earned mixed early reviews but should attract mostly younger moviegoers who eschew critics’ brickbats.

Universal has mounted an edgy campaign for its R-rated comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” with billboard messages including “You suck, Sarah Marshall” getting lots of free ink.

“It’s nice when people out there comment, almost completely positively, about a campaign,” said Adam Fogelson, Universal’s president of worldwide marketing and distribution. “But clever for the sake of clever doesn’t win you anything.”

Toss in solid reviews, and you might have something. Fortuitously, prerelease tracking on “Marshall” doesn’t suck, so a bow in the mid-teen millions seems safely within reach.

If the tough-to-track college crowd comes out in big numbers for “Marshall” -- which counts comedy kingpin Judd Apatow among its producers -- something a bit more lucrative could be in the offing. Apatow’s openings have proven hard to forecast, but the April slotting for “Marshall” suggests that it should bow somewhere between the $21.4 million rung up by “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” in August 2005 and last month’s disappointing $10.3 million debut for “Drillbit Taylor.”

Elsewhere, Sony’s thriller “88 Minutes” has drawn tough reviews. Yet it appears that the Al Pacino starrer could fetch as much as $10 million, targeting older moviegoers.

Also this weekend, the creation-theory documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” opens in 1,000-plus locations. It purports an establishment conspiracy to keep the “intelligent design” creation theory from being discussed in public schools, with actor-pundit Ben Stein serving as interviewer.

Advance ticket sales through church groups have been robust, and a bow in the single-digit millions seems likely.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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