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It's almost an 'Iron'-clad guarantee Families likely to ride 'Speed Racer' to No. 2; 'Vegas' a good bet for third-place finish

Here's a near iron-clad certainty for this weekend's boxoffice: "Iron Man" will fly to No. 1 — again.

Warner Bros.' "Speed Racer," a live-action adaptation of the classic Japanese cartoon series, opens in saturation release this weekend. Fox's romantic comedy "What Happens in Vegas," starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz, also unspools wide. But neither new film appears to be a match for the high-grossing holdover from Paramount and Marvel.

"Iron Man" won the weekend laurels with $98.6 million during its first Friday-Sunday frame and should fetch $45 million-$50 million during its sophomore session.

"Speed Racer" — directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, who also co-produced with Joel Silver — has been tracking softly and could bow with less than $30 million. "Vegas" probably will gross slightly more than $20 million and nab third place for the weekend, after "Iron Man" and "Speed Racer."

Rated PG, "Speed Racer" stars Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild") and targets family audiences more than the PG-13 "Iron Man." The Warners film has been tracking best with older women — meaning moms — so that bodes well for the distributor's strategy of targeting moviegoers less likely to be heading to "Iron Man."

But it better make its family moolah quickly. Disney debuts its highly anticipated family sequel "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" on May 16.

Warners execs also hope to get some patrons this frame who already caught "Iron Man" last weekend. But with a breakout hit like the Paramount film, repeat business also will figure big during the weekend.

"We have seen a really strong interest among families, and that's are target," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said. "So hopefully they will show up."

Audiences recruited for survey screenings have given "Speed Racer" favorable marks, Fellman added.

Fox staged 309 sneak previews of "Vegas" on Saturday night, filling auditoriums to a promising 70% capacity.

"We're looking forward to a good weekend," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said.

Also this weekend, Paramount Vantage unspools David Mamet's "Redbelt" in 1,379 locations. The martial arts drama debuted last week in six Los Angeles and New York theaters, grossing $63,361 million, or a solid $10,560 per venue. (partialdiff)
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