There's no doubt that The Twilight Saga: New Moon will rise to the top of the domestic box office again over the coming long holiday weekend.
But Warner Bros. should peel more than a few young males away from that picture's female-driven fan frenzy to support the opening of martial-arts action movie Ninja Assassin. And Disney looks likely to post an even more lucrative session to nab one of the medal positions in the weekend's box-office rankings with family-friendly comedy Old Dogs, starring John Travolta, Robin Williams, Seth Green and Kelly Preston.
A third new title this weekend -- the Weinstein Co.'s big-screen adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road -- had been intended as a wide release until recently knocked back to a limited bow in about 100 locations. Like the other new releases, Road will unspool Wednesday to get a head start on the Thanksgiving holiday.
Summit Entertainment executives figure that New Moon will avoid a precipitous drop in its sophomore session for two reasons: Many students and adults will have Friday off, and many young girls are already heading back to the theater for repeat viewings of the vampire-romance sequel.
New Moon is poised to run away with the weekend box-office crown again, with a three-day haul of $60 million or so.
PG-rated Dogs, directed by Walt Becker (Wild Hogs), is showing good traction with family patrons and older moviegoers in pre-release tracking surveys. Its broad tone is just the sort of comedy that has performed best of late.
The film with at least a shot at besting Dogs for the weekend silver medal is a holdover title. Warners' Sandra Bullock-starring The Blind Side, which opened at No. 2 last weekend with $34.1 million. Blind Side should be able to top $20 million in Friday-Sunday coin this session. Dogs also should fetch more than $20 million during the weekend and at least $30 million for its first five days.
Rated R, Ninja gives James McTeigue a first feature directing credit after extensive second-unit work, and its producers include Andy and Larry Wachowski (The Matrix). Rick Yune (The Fast and the Furious) and Korean superstar Rain (Speed Racer) top the effects-laden movie's ensemble cast.
Ninja looks likely to register well into the teen millions this weekend and just a bit higher for the five-day span.
Rated R for extreme violence, The Road stars Viggo Mortensen and big-screen newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, with Australian John Hillcoat directing.
Despite early buzz as an awards-consideration candidate, the gritty drama will have to take a longer road to potential riches. There was no immediate indication when Weinstein will widen Road to more screens, and that decision could hinge on how it performs this week.
Year to date, 2009 is running 5.4 percent ahead of the year-earlier period, with $8.98 billion in industry box-office grosses through last weekend.