October 16, 2009 / 6:12 AM / in 8 years

"Wild Things" poised to top weekend box office

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Three new wide releases -- two thrillers and a film adaptation of a best-selling children’s book -- will vie for the weekend’s box-office crown, with “Where the Wild Things Are” likely to fetch more than $25 million and lead the pack.

<p>Actor and producer Tom Hanks arrives for the premiere of the film "Where The Wild Things Are" in New York October 13, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>

Warner Bros.’ heavily marketed PG-rated film is based on Maurice Sendak’s 1963 picture book. Catherine Keener and Mark Ruffalo are among the ensemble cast of “Wild Things,” a whimsical mix of creature effects, CGI and conventional live action. Voice performers feature James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker and Catherine O‘Hara. The Spike Jonze-helmed feature is expected to draw equally well among single adults and family moviegoers.

The Jamie Foxx/Gerard Butler thriller “Law Abiding Citizen,” which bows in about 2,800 theaters Friday, is the third wide release in a month from fledgling mini-major studio Overture Films, after Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” and the Dennis Quaid-starring “Pandorum.” The R-rated “Citizen” is likely to open in the low-teen millions, and should draw its most solid support from males.

The third new wide release, Screen Gems’ horror thriller “The Stepfather,” directed by F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”), could be confined to the teen millions because of audience overlap with Paramount’s first big expansion of the buzz title “Paranormal Activity.”

The R-rated “Paranormal” scared up an impressive $7.9 million from 160 playdates the previous weekend, with a $9.1 million total to date including earlier midnight-only engagements. Paramount will expand the film to more than 800 locations, and it appears on track for the teen millions this weekend, ahead of a likely expansion north of 2,000 runs this month.

Produced for an estimated $19 million, “Stepfather” is a remake of the 1987 film and yields a first feature-helming credit for TV director Nelson McCormick. Rated PG-13, it should fetch $15 million or more through Sunday.

Among key holdovers, Universal will hope for a lucrative sophomore session for “Couples Retreat” after the ensemble comedy’s surprisingly robust opening a week ago. The defending box-office champ hits the weekend approaching a $50 million cumulative total.

Disney has extended the theatrical run of its double-feature release of 3D versions of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” originally planned as a two-week run. Solid business and continued exhibitor interest persuaded the studio to keep the twin bill in theaters.

The “Toy Story” re-releases registered more than $25 million through their two weeks in theaters, when they played in more than l,700 3D-only locations. The double feature will continue to play in more than 1,300 sites this weekend but likely shed venues the following frame.

The weekend’s box-office grosses will be compared with a $100 million year-earlier frame topped by the $17 million bow of Fox’s action movie “Max Payne.”

(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)

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