'Alice' eyeing boxoffice three-peat

'Bounty Hunter' a safe bet for nabbing second spot

Get ready for a 3D three-peat at the weekend domestic boxoffice.

Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" demonstrated its holding power during the previous frame, when it dropped just 46% as it took in an additional $62.7 million. Another 45% drop this weekend would see the Tim Burton-directed fantasy collect a mid-$30 million figure, which should allow it to dominate all competition -- and that's despite a trio of new pics hitting multiplexes in wide release.

Still, the market should find room for a couple of the rookies to establish solid footholds.

Sony's action comedy "The Bounty Hunter," starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, is a good bet for second place with a debut of $20 million-$23 million. Rated PG-13, "Bounty" will be hunting the date-movie crowd with its battle-of-the-sexes tale, directed by Andy Tennant ("Fool's Gold"), with Butler playing a bounty hunter who takes on the assignment of bringing in ex-wife Aniston.

Fox, meanwhile, will be going after tweens with its comedy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," based on the Jeff Kinney book that's given birth to a successful series about the trials and tribulations of middle school.

Rated PG, the pic's weekend hinges primarily on interest among family moviegoers, who could reward it with an opening of $15 million or more. Zachary Gordon stars in the feature directed by Thor Freudenthal, who turned out last year's "Hotel for Dogs."

"It's very targeted and will appeal to 7- to 14-year-old kids," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said.

Universal, which launched "Green Zone" last weekend to a disappointing $14.3 million, should see that film drop to fifth place. But the studio is taking another turn at bat with the sci-fi thriller "Repo Men." Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star in the futuristic actioner, based on Eric Garcia's novel "The Repossession Mambo," which concerns trafficking in artificial body parts.

Prerelease interest in the R-rated pic, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, a storyboard artist making his feature directorial debut, has been slow to build, so a bow of somewhere north of $10 million appears likely.

In the specialty arena, Summit will expand Roman Polanski-directed political thriller "The Ghost Writer" -- which has grossed $4.3 million through four weekends of limited release -- into 819 theaters.

Apparition will look to see whether Kristen Stewart's "Twilight" fans follow her to "The Runaways," in which she plays rocker Joan Jett, which will bow in more than 200 theaters.

And Focus will introduce Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg," starring Ben Stiller as a middle-aged slacker, in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles.

Industrywide, the weekend will be compared with a $105.5 million frame last year topped by the $24.6 million bow of Summit's suspense pic "Knowing," followed by the second- and third-place bows of Paramount/DreamWorks' "I Love You, Man," with $17.8 million, and Universal's "Duplicity," with nearly $14 million, respectively.

Carl DiOrio reported from Las Vegas; Gregg Kilday reported from Los Angeles.
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