Openers search for youth this weekend

'Lakeview,' 'Girl' challenge 'Burn' for top boxoffice spot

Will Hollywood recapture its youth this weekend?

Four new films unspool this session, and though none looks certain to skew to youthful demos, one or more should play younger than last weekend's group of wide openers. Then again, almost anything would.

Although successful enough to nab the top four rungs in the boxoffice rankings, last weekend's widest openers collectively drew an audience comprised more than two-thirds by patrons age 25 and older.

This frame's wide releases include Sony's Samuel L. Jackson thriller "Lakeview Terrace"; Lionsgate's romantic comedy "My Best Friend's Girl," with Dane Cook and Kate Hudson; "Igor," an animated family feature from MGM featuring a voice cast led by John Cusack; and "Ghost Town," DreamWorks/Paramount's comic fantasy that stars Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear.

Last weekend's top grosser was Focus Features' "Burn After Reading" with $19.1 million, and an unusually strong second-week "hold" for the Coen brothers comedy could see the George Clooney-Brad Pitt starrer again vie for the boxoffice laurels. But it's likelier that a couple of the new releases will compete in a simple two-horse race for the No. 1 position this session.

"Lakeview" and "Girl" look likely to gross in the double-digit millions and perhaps into the teen millions. Prerelease interest in both films seems to overlap only slightly, with "Girl" skewing significantly younger than "Lakeview."

Prospects for the other two films appear much iffier.

"Igor" will hit $10 million only if the recent absence of family-friendly titles causes a last-minute surge of interest in the 2-D animated feature. Perhaps tellingly, the Weinstein Co. initially held domestic rights to "Igor" until bailing on the mission and prompting producer Exodus Films to turn to MGM for distribution.

Meanwhile, "Ghost Town" is tracking so poorly that Paramount recently opted to significantly cut back its playdates -- seldom a good sign. Whether the product of a tired premise, its well-regarded but less-than-stellar cast or mixed early reviews, it's hard to see how "Ghost Town" fetches more than single-digit millions during its first weekend.

With the prospect of a couple misfires in the batch of market entrants, the weekend will struggle to outperform the comparable frame of a year earlier unless "Lakeview" or "Girl" pops well beyond projections. The third weekend of 2007's fall boxoffice produced $97 million in collective grosses during a frame topped by the $23.7 million bow of Sony's "Resident Evil: Extinction."
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