A trio of new entries enter crowded box office field

Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:42pm EDT
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By Pamela McClintock

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The weekend box office could see a close battle between three new titles -- Relativity Media's Bradley Cooper starrer "Limitless," Lionsgate's Matthew McConaughey legal thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer" and Universal's raunchy alien comedy "Paul."

All are expected to open in the low to mid teens, give or take.

If that holds true, Sony's holdover "Battle: Los Angeles" has a fighting chance of staying at the top of the chart. "Battle: L.A.," opening to $35.6 million last weekend, had earned $44 million through Wednesday.

Paramount's "Rango," coming in No. 2 last weekend, also is expected to remain a popular choice. The quirky toon's total gross through Wednesday was $75.2 million.

Disney's ill-fated toon "Mars Needs Moms" enters its second frame after opening to just $6.9 million.

"Limitless" could have an edge over the competition, since tracking shows it appealing to the broadest audience. Directed by Neil Burger, the film also stars Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro.

In the movie, Cooper stars as a down-and-out man whose life is transformed when he takes a drug that optimizes untapped parts of his brain.

"Limitless," costing $27 million to make, was co-produced by Relativity and Virgin Produced. (It's the debut title from Richard Branson's company.)   Continued...