'Easy A' squares off against 'The Town,' 'Devil'

"Easy A," "The Town," "Devil" and "Resident Evil: Afterlife"

VIDEO: Emma Stone pic eyes top box office spot

The fall box office season is a theatrical limbo between the sizzlers of summer and awards-magnets of winter, but four new wide releases will freshen multiplex marquees this weekend.

Any effect on industry fortunes from the season's second frame might have to come collectively, as none of the market entrants is assured of ringing up more then teen millions through Sunday. That's unfortunate with Hollywood having launched its new domestic season last weekend with a 10% year-over-year downtick.

Friday's start of Yom Kippur won't help. But the somber religious holiday generally hurts only older-skewing pics and only in larger markets, so youth-seeking new films should be relatively unaffected.

Sony's teen comedy "Easy A" looks to be the strongest of the new movies and is tracking best with young females. Directed by Will Gluck ("Fired Up!"), the PG-13 pic stars Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes and Penn Badgley in a tale of high school rumor-mongoring with a "Scarlet Letter" twist.

A bow in the $18 million-$20 million range looks doable. "Easy" was produced for just $8 million.

Universal's horror pic "Devil," whose producers include M. Night Shyamalan, might be the next most comely market debutant. Set for about 2,800 locations, the PG-13 pic should reach the low- to midteen millions on the strength of young male support.

Co-directed by John Erick Dowdle and sometimes writing partner Drew Dowdle, the MRC-produced "Devil" wedges a group of people into a stuck elevator -- one of whom is the pitchfork-toting dude himself. Chris Messina plays a police detective dragged into the unholy drama.

Uni paid $27 million for distribution rights in North America and several international territories, with Relativity as a partner.

Warner Bros.' crime thriller "The Town" was directed by Ben Affleck, who also toplines as the leader of a bank-heist crew. Co-stars include Jeremy Renner as a volatile member of the crew, Jon Hamm as an FBI agent on their tail and Rebecca Hall as a bank manager and potential love interest.

Set for roughly 2,860 playdates, "Town" should make off with $14 million-$16 million through Sunday. Affleck's feature helming debut, 2007's "Gone Baby Gone," bagged $5.5 million in first-frame loot.

Older males and females mention the strongest must-see interest in R-rated "Town."

"I think it's going to open up to a good September type of number and then have very good legs," Warners distribution boss Dan Fellman said.

Legendary Pictures was a 50% co-financier of "Town," which cost less than $35 million to produce.

Lionsgate's 3D animated family comedy "Alpha and Omega" was produced by Crest Animation of Mumbai and Burbank. Co-directed by Ben Gluck ("Brother Bear 2") and TV veteran Anthony Bell, "Alpha" boasts 1,623 3D locations among 2,625 total theaters and could go as high single-digit millions.

Last weekend's No. 1 pic, Screen Gems' "Resident Evil: Afterlife," looks likely to register double-digit millions in its sophomore session and could reach the teen millions. The 3D fourquel totes $35 million in cumulative box office.

Among the frame's limited bows, Rogue unspools the thriller "Catfish" in 12 locations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin. Rogue owner Relativity acquired the tale of social-networking intrigue at Sundance.

Industrywide, the weekend will be compared with a $102 million frame last year topped by the $30.3 million bow of Sony's 3D animated feature "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." The Rosh Hashana religious holiday, which began midweek this year, started Saturday evening in the year-ago frame; Yom Kippur began on a Sunday evening later in the month last year.

Year-to-date box office continues to outpace last year by 4%, at $7.72 billion.
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