'Robinsons' could be on thin ice

Dis' animated family pic faces one cold foe in Ferrell's 'Blades'

It's 3-D vs. Will Ferrell at the North American boxoffice this weekend. While most prognosticators are betting on Walt Disney Pictures' animated "Meet the Robinsons" to take the top spot, an upset by Ferrell and skating partner Jon Heder in DreamWorks' "Blades of Glory" certainly is possible — much more likely than the comic performers successfully landing a perfect triple lutz.

Meanwhile, Miramax Films bows Scott Frank's R-rated crime drama "The Lookout" in 955 theaters. The indie studio is taking a big chance because Warner Bros. Pictures' R-rated "300" still has legs, and next weekend "Lookout" will face the opening of the Weinstein Co.'s testosterone-charged "Grindhouse," from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

This weekend should be a big one. Although it will be tough to outperform the comparable frame last year, when 20th Century Fox's juggernaut "Ice Age: The Meltdown" opened to $68 million, it is a possibility. Between the families coming out for "Robinsons" and everyone else getting in line for "Blades" — while young men are still swarming to "300" and Warners' "TMNT"— an up weekend is a feasible option.

From debut director Stephen J. Anderson, "Robinsons" is the long-gestating project based on William Joyce's best-selling children's book. Executive produced by Pixar's John Lasseter, "Robinsons" was rejiggered by the animator before its release. The G-rated film, featuring the voices of Angela Bassett and Laurie Metcalf, centers on a young orphan who is whisked away in a time machine after his science project is stolen.

The film will bow in more than 3,413 theaters domestically; it will play in 3-D on about 600 screens at 500 locations.

Many industry insiders have "Robinsons" pegged in the $35 million-$40 million range. But a more likely scenario is a bow in the low-$30 million range because of the heavy competition in the marketplace.

Paramount Pictures opens DreamWorks' "Blades" in 3,372 theaters. From commercial directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, "Blades" stars Ferrell and Heder as rival skaters who, after being stripped of their medals for fighting, come together as a pairs team in one of skating's oddest loopholes. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler co-star as pairs skating champs. The film comes from writing partners and brothers Jeff and Craig Cox. With a PG-13 rating and Ferrell playing what audiences love — an obnoxious, unaware character in a ridiculous premise — the film has tremendous upside potential. Although it's highly unlikely that the movie will garner the grosses earned by Ferrell's most recent comedy, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which bowed in August to $47 million, the "Blades" opening should generate more dollars than Ferrell's two big comedic hits: 2004's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and 2003's "Elf," which bowed to $28 million and $31 million, respectively.

Miramax opens "Lookout," from veteran screenwriter Frank ("Minority Report," "The Interpreter"), stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher. The film centers on Gordon-Levitt's character, a once-promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down after a tragic accident. With an R rating and a ton of competition, "Lookout" might be looking at a $5 million opening gross.

Universal Pictures is experimenting with the rerelease of "Peaceful Warrior" in 615 theaters. The film, which was given a limited bow by Lionsgate in 2006, has been part of an alternative marketing campaign through Best Buy, in which up to $15 million worth of passes were given away. Those freebies will be tabulated as full-fare tickets, but Universal does not plan on calculating boxoffice with traditional methods.
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