'Witch Mountain' challenging 'Watchmen'

Disney pic could push comic-book film out of top slot

Will "Watchmen" turn out to be a one-week wonder?

There appears at least a possibility of that -- though after the pic topped the domestic boxoffice with $55.2 million this past weekend, nobody is likely to shed tears for distributor Warner Bros. if the "Watchmen" reign proves short-lived.

Not that there isn't considerable interest in the question. "Watchmen" was watched for weeks for signs of whether it would open well, so it similarly will be scrutinized for the strength of its legs in the theatrical marketplace.

The visually charged superhero pic won't be helped by the emergence of three wide openers during its sophomore session: Disney's family adventure "Race to Witch Mountain," Universal's R-rated horror film "The Last House on the Left" and Fox Atomic's R-rated youth comedy "Miss March."

"Witch Mountain" seems strongest among the new pics. Some industryites believe it will outpace "Watchmen," even though the R-rated comic-book adaptation should ring up $20 million or more this frame.

A weekend-to-weekend drop of 60%, par for the course for a big action title, would yield a $22 million session for "Watchmen." The PG-rated "Witch Mountain" is tracking well enough to suggest a similar bow, with prerelease interest in surveys broader than the kids-pic support one might expect.

"Witch Mountain" stars Dwayne Johnson ("The Game Plan") in a reworking of Disney's 1975 action adventure "Escape to Witch Mountain." Other cast members in the Andy Fickman-helmed family-oriented pic include Carla Gugino, who also co-stars in "Watchmen."

"The width of the audience may be more than people were expecting," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said. "This one just might border on a true four-quadrant movie."

"Last House" seems likely to open in the high-teen millions. Produced by Rogue Pictures, the film stars Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter in a refashioning of Wes Craven's 1972 horror thriller. Greek actor-turned-helmer Dennis Iliadis directed the remake.

Tracking data on "March" have been soft, with modest interest among young adults representing its best shot at market traction.

"March," then, could be mired in the middle-single-digit millions through Sunday. Its young ensemble cast was co-directed by TV helmers Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore ("The Whitest Kids U Know"), who also get their first feature-film writing credit.

Friday's limited releases include Overture's bicoastal exclusives for "Sunshine Cleaning," starring Amy Adams and Emily Blunt and directed by Christine Jeffs.
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