High school pic "Easy A" set to lead box office

Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:37pm EDT
 
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The fall box office season is a theatrical limbo between the sizzlers of summer and awards-magnets of winter, but four new wide releases will freshen multiplex marquees this weekend.

Any effect on industry fortunes from the season's second frame might have to come collectively, as none of the market entrants is assured of ringing up more than teen millions through Sunday.

"Easy A" looks to be the strongest of the new movies and is tracking best with young females. The $8 million Sony release stars Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes and Penn Badgley in a tale of high school rumor-mongering with a "Scarlet Letter" twist. A bow in the $18 million-$20 million range looks doable.

The horror picture "Devil," whose producers include M. Night Shyamalan, might be the next most comely market debutant. It should reach the low- to midteen millions on the strength of young male support. "Devil" wedges a group of people into a stuck elevator -- one of whom is the pitchfork-toting dude himself. Chris Messina plays a police detective dragged into the unholy drama. Universal paid $27 million for distribution rights in North America and several international territories, with Relativity as a partner.

Ben Affleck stars in and directs "The Town," a heist thriller that should make off with $14 million-$16 million through Sunday. Co-stars include Jeremy Renner as a volatile member of the crew, Jon Hamm as an FBI agent on their tail and Rebecca Hall as a bank manager and potential love interest. Affleck's feature helming debut, 2007's "Gone Baby Gone," bagged $5.5 million in first-frame loot. Older patrons mention the strongest must-see interest in "Town," which cost Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures less than $35 million to produce.

Lionsgate's 3D animated family comedy "Alpha and Omega," meanwhile, could go as high single-digit millions.

Last weekend's No. 1 picture, Sony's "Resident Evil: Afterlife," looks likely to register double-digit millions in its second session and could reach the teen millions. The 3D fourquel totes $35 million in sales to date.