April 4, 2008 / 2:02 AM / in 10 years

Clooney eyes box office touchdown with comedy

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - George Clooney is set to score at the North American box office this weekend.

<p>Director and cast member George Clooney (L) and his girlfriend Sarah Larson pose at the premiere of "Leatherheads" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California, March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

While “Leatherheads” is not exactly the glitziest vehicle in his career, the 1920s sports comedy is likely to open at No. 1 with sales at least in the mid-teen millions.

Clooney, who also directed the Universal Pictures release, plays a professional football player in the sport’s anarchic early days.

“Leatherheads” is tracking well with older men and women, and interest seemed to be building this week among male youngsters. Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski also star.

Other openers include the family fantasy “Nim’s Island,” starring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler, and the horror film “The Ruins.”

An adaptation of a kids book by Wendy Orr, “Nim’s Island” could reach the low-teen millions, which should be good enough for No. 2 or No. 3. The film comes from 20th Century Fox.

Much depends on how Sony’s college kids-hit-Vegas drama “21” performs during its second round. “21” topped the domestic box office last weekend with a $24.1 million bow, and a 50% hold would produce about $12 million during its second outing.

DreamWorks/Paramount’s “Ruins,” based on Scott Smith’ best-selling novel, could be limited to an opening in the mid- to high-single-digit millions.

The Weinstein Co.’s high-profile drama “My Blueberry Nights” figures among the frame’s limited openers and features the film debut of jazz-pop chanteuse Norah Jones as well as performances by Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz.

Also, Paramount Classics’ “Shine a Light,” a Rolling Stones concert film directed by Martin Scorsese, opens in 276 theaters, including 93 Imax venues.

Industry opinion is mixed on whether April will be a help or hindrance in 2008’s struggle to outpace the year-ago box office totals.

Weekend comparisons from a year ago won’t be particularly tough this month, but the more dour among industry handicappers view much of April’s release schedule dubiously. Adding to their skepticism is a recently gloomy theatrical marketplace, with the industry box office marking year-over-year declines in six of the past seven weekends.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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