December 19, 2008 / 12:56 AM / 10 years ago

Will Smith and Jim Carrey in box office showdown

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It’s Will Smith vs. Jim Carrey in a boxoffice smackdown this weekend, while a misfit mouse tries to avoid getting squished in the clash of A-listers.

Will Smith attends the premiere of the movie "Seven Pounds" at the Mann Village theatre in Westwood, California December 16, 2008. The movie opens in the U.S. on December 19. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Smith has been marquee magic for years, and Sony expects his romantic drama “Seven Pounds” to weigh in with a heavyweight performance during its opening frame. But Carrey certainly can pack his own marketplace mojo when hitched to a commercial vehicle, and Warner Bros.’ “Yes Man” looks like one slick ride — maybe to the top of the box office heap.

“We’re in very good shape,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. “I think both movies will find their audiences. There’s plenty of capacity in the marketplace to handle both.”

Prerelease tracking shows “Yes Man” as likely to draw a bit better among younger men. That could give it a leg up in the competition, but both pictures could open with $30 million or more.

“As soon as you get into the 21-plus range, we’re doing very well,” Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at Sony. “So we’re in very good shape with the adult audience, with both men and women.”

The somewhat serious tone of “Pounds” has drawn comparisons with Smith’s “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which bowed in December 2006 with $26.5 million en route to ringing up $164 million domestically. “Pounds” director Gabriele Muccino also helmed “Happyness.”

Meanwhile, Universal unspools the animated feature “The Tale of Despereaux,” a yarn about quirky rodents voiced by Matthew Broderick and Dustin Hoffman. The family fantasy is based on a novel by Kate DeCamillo.

Tracking is solid in family demos and suggests that “Despereaux” should creep into the teen millions. That should be plenty to successfully open a movie that cost only $60 million to produce.

Among this weekend’s key holdover pictures, Fox’s sci-fi remake “The Day the Earth Stood Still” will be gunning for a solid second session after topping the domestic box office last weekend with $30.5 million.

This weekend also features yet another hot awards-consideration title debuting in limited release, as Fox Searchlight opens the Mickey Rourke comeback vehicle “The Wrestler,” which already is the object of considerable affection among critics. If the recent openings of other prestige art films offer any guidance, “Wrestler” should attract plenty of adult moviegoers.

Two films mount key expansions following outsized grosses from limited engagements: the Miramax drama “Doubt,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep, and the Clint Eastwood-helmed and -toplined “Gran Torino” from Warners. Fox Searchight’s Indian game show drama “Slumdog Millionaire” is set to reach wide distribution with 600-plus playdates starting Friday.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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