Jennifer Aniston vs. Steve Martin at box office

Thu Feb 5, 2009 10:24pm EST
 
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jennifer Aniston, fresh from her triumph in "Marley & Me," returns to North American movie theaters on Friday with "He's Just Not That Into You," one of four wide new releases vying for moviegoer dollars.

Some audience overlap is apparent among the debutants, and it's likely that one or more of the new pictures will struggle. As for predicting the pecking order of the weekend openers, that's something of a crapshoot.

"He's Just Not That Into You" seems to have the best chance of taking the No. 1 spot. The Warner Bros. release, whose ensemble cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck and Drew Barrymore, has "chick-flick" written all over it. But some early reviews suggest that it has the goods to attract a few guys as well.

It could gross in the upper-teen millions or higher, which should be sufficient to oust Fox's "Taken" from the top spot in the Liam Neeson starrer's sophomore session.

Elsewhere, Steve Martin reprises his Inspector Clouseau role in the slapstick sequel "The Pink Panther 2," which Sony has been marketing lavishly. It looks likely to draw audiences skewing heavily toward family patrons.

Dakota Fanning is linked to a pair of films. The tyke lends her voice to Focus Features' 3-D animated "Coraline," which totes a kid-friendly rating and a filmic sensibility likely to snag more than a few adults -- certainly older fans of stop-motion auteur Henry Selick ("James and the Giant Peach").

She also stars in "Push," a sci-fi thriller for young adults that bears no connection to this year's similarly titled Sundance prize winner. The Summit Entertainment release appears the weakest of the market entrants and could struggle to open above the single-digit millions.

Meanwhile, many adults still will be preoccupied with Oscar-nominated films such as the Indian game-show drama "Slumdog Millionaire" and the Nazi-themed literary adaptation "The Reader." All of the Academy's best picture contenders are now in wide release, but theatrical interest appears on the wane for "Frost/Nixon," "Milk" and leading nominee "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"

The Weinstein Co. also has set a limited bow for this weekend for "Fanboys," its much-buzzed "Star Wars"-themed caper comedy set to launch with some 40 playdates.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

 
<p>Cast member Jennifer Aniston smiles at the premiere of the movie "He's Just Not That Into You" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>