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'New Moon' taking on 'Blind Side' again

Last week's top boxoffice finishers set to battle for No. 1 spot

Summit Entertainment's fanged-phenom "New Moon" and Warner Bros.' leggy Sandra Bullock starrer "The Blind Side" -- the Nos. 1 and 2 finishers, respectively, at the boxoffice this past weekend -- again will battle for the top spot in domestic rankings.

However, the rousing boxoffice rung up during the Thanksgiving period has produced a good news/bad news situation for film distributors.

Moviegoers clearly are in the mood to visit multiplexes, but theater owners are loath to surrender screens for pics launching this weekend. None of this session's four wide openers will unspool in appreciably more than 2,000 locations, and none is likely to reach even the teen millions through Sunday.

"Exhibitors don't want to give up screens from the big films," a top film distribution exec groused.

Lionsgate's drama "Brothers," starring Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, looks headed for the low-double-digit millions and could grab the bronze medal as the strongest of the market debutants. Set for 2,088 playdates, the R-rated "Brothers" is a remake of a Danish film directed by Jim Sheridan ("In America") that focuses on a soldier and his brother caught in a love triangle.

"It's a challenging film, but when audiences see the movie, the response has been overwhelmingly positive," Lionsgate distribution topper David Spitz said. "So if we can get this film to open to a good base, it will have good playability."

Prerelease interest is soft for Sony Screen Gems' action thriller "Armored," toplined by Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne. So the pic about the heist of an armored truck is likely to get stuck in the middle-single-digit millions.

Still, production costs were relatively modest at about $20 million, and young males are showing sufficient interest to have studio execs sanguine about its opening prospects

"The movie plays really well," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said.

 

Miramax's dramatic comedy "Everybody's Fine," toplined by Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore, appears headed for a bow in a similarly ho-hum range, while Full Circle's horror comedy "Transylmania" could fetch even less.

Among today's limited releases, Paramount unspools the George Clooney starrer "Up in the Air" in 15 theaters. The book-based drama will expand during coming weeks and attempt to draft off of kudos-season publicity.

On an industrywide basis, this weekend will be compared with a soft $82.4 million session in 2008, whose top opening was the limp $4.3 million bow by Lionsgate's action sequel "Punisher: War Zone." Year-to-date boxoffice is up 5.5%, at $9.29 billion, according to Nielsen EDI.