Bart, Lisa, and the whole gang from Springfield will charge into multiplexes across North America and much of the world this weekend in the highly anticipated animated comedy The Simpsons Movie which looks to easily conquer the box office. But competing studios do have other menu items in store for moviegoers. Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in the romantic comedy No Reservations, Lindsay Lohan headlines the grisly thriller I Know Who Killed Me, and hip hop star Big Boi tries out the world of golf comedy in Who’s Your Caddy?

Fox is aiming for hardcore followers and casual fans alike with its long-in-the-works comedy The Simpsons Movie which hits screens at midnight on Thursday night. The PG-13 film has a substantial built-in audience and should play out like a semi-sequel. To some extent it will be one of the more unpredictable openings of the summer since there is no track record of Simpsons fans leaving their TVs and paying money at the box office, however the fan base is sizable and will definitely come out upfront. Reviews have been good too so those who tuned out a decade ago and miss the Bobo years should return to try out what the feature-length entree is like.

The studio gets major points for executing what is certainly one of the best marketing campaigns of the year. From turning a dozen 7-11s into Kwik-E-Marts to the SimpsonizeMe web promotion, The Simpsons Movie has been generating substantial interest and has jumped from the entertainment pages to the front pages becoming a major pop culture event. That should lead to a powerful opening weekend, even if large drops follow. The marketplace will get crowded this weekend, however Simpsons will tower over its foes with ease. In fact its nearest competitors should only be in the teen millions so Krusty and company will get the attention of most folks. Busting into 3,922 theaters, The Simpsons Movie could open in the neighborhood of $54M.

The Simpsons Movie

The German film Mostly Martha gets transformed into a star-driven Hollywood vehicle in the comedy No Reservations featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin. The PG-rated film features the T-Mobile lady playing a control freak chef who must care for her niece when her sister is killed. Warner Bros. offered sneak previews last weekend to help get some buzz going since the marketplace is getting so crowded now. No Reservations should skew more female making the hotter-than-expected Hairspray a formidable competitor. Starpower is not too high here which will make for another challenge at the box office. Serving up love and laughs in 2,425 locations, No Reservations could gross roughly $9M over the weekend.

No Reservations

What seemed like a good idea a year ago – Lindsay Lohan headlining a thriller – now looks to become an unfortunate casualty of the summer box office race. I Know Who Killed Me, an R-rated scarefest from Sony, hits theaters on Friday riding a wave of bad publicity surrounding its star. Is all publicity, good publicity? Will Lohan’s arrests and substance abuse problems help sell more tickets? Moviegoers will decide that, but Killed enters the marketplace without a lot of fanfare. Hollywood has run the horror genre into the ground this year with an overabundance of product and this one’s harsh rating will make it much tougher to get Lohan’s fan base in. The film looked promising a month ago when scenes of the mean girl doing a stripper routine were released online. But most of the intrigue has evaporated and the pic now stands as yet another scary movie that ticket buyers don’t need. Debuting in about 1,200 locations, I Know Who Killed Me may collect around $4M.

I Know Who Killed Me

MGM releases the golf comedy Who’s Your Caddy? which stars hip hop players Big Boi and Lil Wayne. The PG-13 pic tells of a rap mogul who invades and turns upside-down an elite country club. Opening in only 1,019 theaters with a low-volume marketing push, Caddy is not looking to lead the pack at all but comes as a small offering for teens on summer vacation too bored to see anything else. Given the high amount of competition and the low amount of starpower, the grosses should be small. Who’s Your Caddy? might take in about $2M this weekend.

Who’s Your Caddy?

As if the weekend wasn’t crowded enough, a handful of films that have posted impressive results in limited release test the waters in many more theaters. MGM widens the acclaimed military drama Rescue Dawn from 57 to more than 500 runs, Fox Searchlight expands its sci-fi thriller Sunshine from ten to over 400 locations, and Focus jumps from 36 to 115 playdates with its well-reviewed Don Cheadle starrer Talk To Me. All three should find themselves in the Top 20.

Rescue Dawn

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix took a beating last weekend when the final wizard book hit the shelves. The drop could stabilize this weekend despite the arrival of Apu and friends. A 45% decline would give the Hogwarts clan about $18M and a 19-day cume of $242M.

Adam Sandler comedies typically drop by 45-50% on the second weekend depending on how well received they are. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is not exactly a fan favorite so sales could get sliced in half and fall to about $17M. That would still give the Universal comedy about $70M after ten days.

New Line enjoyed a better than expected bow for the musical Hairspray which gave the studio its best opening in two years. However its Friday-to-Saturday drop of 15% last weekend indicates that it might be a front-loaded title. Look for a 50% fall to around $14M giving the John Travolta vehicle a ten-day tally of $59M.

LAST YEAR: Universal’s summer action entry Miami Vice opened atop the charts with $25.7M on its way to $63.5M domestically and $164M worldwide. After three weeks at number one, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest slipped to second with $20.6M. Fox’s teen comedy John Tucker Must Die enjoyed a solid opening in third with $14.3M leading to a $41M final. The animated film Monster House followed with $11.7M in its sophomore frame. Rounding out the top five was rival toon The Ant Bully with a $8.4M opening on its way to a disappointing $28.1M for Warner Bros. Introducing herself to the world in limited release was Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine which went on to become a critical and commercial hit grabbing $59.9M at the box office plus four Oscar nominations.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

Yep, Larry the Cable Guy got his own movie. And here’s a unique and clever twist: Instead of playing a cable guy, he gets to be a harried health inspector who wreaks havoc at various restaurants. And no, this isn’t a direct-to-video title. Check out the trailer for "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" here.

"Irreverent as ever, Larry plays a big city health inspector who’s happy with his usual beat of greasy spoon diners and low-rent ethnic restaurants. But his easygoing life is turned upside-down when he’s saddled with a straight-arrow rookie partner and assigned the biggest case of his career: investigating an outbreak of mysterious food poisonings at the city’s swankiest restaurants. Infuriating restaurateurs with his bad manners, Larry still manages to charm a sweet, shy waitress into a budding romance. But when his unorthodox methods cost him his job, Larry has to go undercover to bring the conspirators to justice and ‘Git-R-Done!’"

Co-starring Iris Bahr, Megyn Price, Bruce Bruce, Tony Hale, Lisa Lampanelli, David Koechner, Joe Pantoliano, and Joanna Cassidy, "Health Inspector" hits theaters on March 24th.

The lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones has signed with Castle Rock to topline an American remake of 2001’s "Mostly Martha," a romantic comedy by Sandra Nettlebeck, says The Hollywood Reporter.

"Catherine Zeta-Jones is set to play a high-powered chef in Castle Rock’s romantic comedy drama "Mostly Martha," which Scott Hicks will direct from a screenplay by Carol Fuchs.

The film, an adaptation of Sandra Nettlebeck’s 2001 German feature "Bella Martha," will be co-financed and distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.

The plot line follows Zeta-Jones’ chef as her life changes when she becomes the guardian of her young niece."

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