Some fresh prey for 'Spider-Man'

Rookies '28 Weeks,' 'Georgia' wrangle for distant 2nd place

Right now, the boxoffice belongs to "Spider-Man 3," and after destroying every record in sight with its $151.1 million opening weekend, the webslinger is on track to continue his triumphal march. Given that schools aren't yet out for the summer, the Sony Pictures release lost a little momentum during the week, but it should rebound this weekend.

The previous opening-weekend record holder, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," dropped 54% in its second weekend back in July, picking up $62.4 million after having bowed to $135.6 million. But even if "Spider-Man" dropped 55%, it still would take in $64 million, so it's a safe bet to enjoy another bonanza.

Of the weekend's new arrivals, the one with the best chance of posting a solid number is 20th Century Fox's apocalyptic sequel "28 Weeks Later." Universal Pictures' femme-centric "Georgia Rule" might give it some competition as it bids for older women, but Lionsgate Films' "Delta Farce" and "The Ex," from MGM and the Weinstein Co., probably are fated to be footnotes in the ongoing story of "Spider-Man's" boxoffice domination.

"28 Weeks" is looking to attract some of the same genre fans who rushed to see "Spider-Man 3" on opening weekend, so if that segment of the audience has had its fill of Spidey and his assorted nemeses, the ongoing tale of a deadly virus wrecking havoc on London could be just the ticket.

In summer 2003, Fox Searchlight carefully nurtured "28 Days Later" from cult status into a modest $45.1 million boxoffice success. Danny Boyle, who directed "28 Days" and exec produced the sequel, couldn't coax Cillian Murphy to reprise his role as one of the survivors of a viral zombie plague, so the R-rated new film is headed by Robert Carlyle ("Angela's Ashes"). The original bowed in fourth place to $10.1 million in 1,260 theaters. Its follow-up is being handled by Fox Atomic and arrives in 2,303 theaters, so its initial gross could move into the midteen- millions territory with an eye toward a second-place showing.

If "Spider-Man" were playing only to guys, then "Georgia," which is clearly aimed at female moviegoers, would provide smart counterprogramming. But since the romantic travails of Peter Parker also are seducing lots of women, "Georgia" will have a tough time peeling away distaff moviegoers.

Reminiscent of the intergenerational drama of "On Golden Pond," "Georgia" stars "Pond's" Jane Fonda as a strict woman whose alcoholic daughter (Felicity Huffman) drops off a troubled granddaughter (Lindsay Lohan) to live with her in small-town Idaho, and all three confront family secrets. Veteran Hollywood hand Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman") directed the R-rated film from Morgan Creek Prods.

Fonda enjoyed a solid hit with her return to the screen in the 2005 comedy "Monster-in-Law," which opened to $23.1 million. But as more serious fare, "Georgia," opening in 2,523 theaters, is probably looking just to crest the $10 million mark.

Making a stand in 1,931 theaters, Lionsgate will launch the PG-13 comedy "Farce," starring Larry the Cable Guy in a tale of Army reservists who are sent to what they think is Iraq but end up liberating a rural Mexican village.

Last year, the eponymously titled "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" bowed to $6.9 million in 1,747 theaters. This new entry — co-starring Bill Engvall and DJ Qualls and directed by veteran TV writer-director C.B. Harding — isn't likely to top that number.

MGM will be playing on the margins with its PG-13 romantic comedy "The Ex," starring Zach Braff and Amanda Peet as newlyweds, placing it in 1,009 theaters. Braff's most recent starring vehicle, "The Last Kiss," opened last year to $4.6 million in 1,359 theaters, so his new film, directed by Jesse Peretz ("The Chateau"), is expected to produce only a few million dollars at best.
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