Following a busy holiday weekend when five new releases opened nationwide, the crowded marketplace will now face another four new films invading multiplexes everywhere.

Jim Carrey tries out the horror genre in "The Number 23," TV comedy comes to the big screen in "Reno 911!: Miami," Billy Bob Thornton longs to be in outer space in "The Astronaut Farmer," and more frights pop up in "The Abandoned." Overall ticket sales should simmer down after the record Presidents’ Day holiday weekend led by "Ghost Rider" which will fight to keep its box office crown. Meanwhile, aging Oscar contenders will compete over last-minute biz ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards which will bring some drama of its own.

After tackling comedy, drama, super hero flicks, and kids movies, Jim Carrey explores his darker side in the new psychological thriller "The Number 23." The Riddler reteams with his "Batman Forever" director Joel Schumacher in this R-rated story about a man obsessed with a book that seems to reveal mysteries about his own past. Virginia Madsen co-stars. Older teens and young adults will make up the target audience here and many in the horror camps will come out of curiosity too. The title is strong and the marketing has been solid so "23" will be able to make a serious challenge for the top spot. Jim Carrey’s starpower will be put to the test once again since this is not a "Bruce Almighty" or "Liar, Liar" situation. Actually, "23" might post one of the best openings of his career for a non-comedy. Maybe if it opens big, he’ll be cast in one of the next twenty-three "Saw" films. Opening in over 2,500 locations this weekend, the new Carrey film may end up grossing $23M – $2M – $3M.


Jim Carrey goes whacko due to "The Number 23."

After making a mint on "Borat," Fox looks to another raunchy comedy for some income. "Reno 911!: Miami" finds the cast of the popular Comedy Central series hitting the road to Florida for a national convention. The R-rated pic will play almost exclusively to fans of the show which while successful, is not really a runaway smash so the potential could be limited. Trailers and commercials actually look funny so a slightly wider crowd may come in. Though "23" could not be more different of a film, it will still offer plenty of competition for older teens and young adults. Moviegoers paying top dollar for a ticket are more likely to try out a Jim Carrey film, even if he’s testing out a new genre. By not screening for critics and releasing the film in the most theaters of any new release this weekend, Fox is basically hoping that those who have seen the show will come out and give this one a try. Steep declines in subsequent weeks are assured. But for the opening frame, a debut in 2,702 venues could lead to a weekend tally of around $14M for "Reno 911!: Miami."


Our favorite careening cops are ready to take on Miami.

Billy Bob Thornton plays an ex-astronaut who tends to his farm in the aptly-titled "The Astronaut Farmer" from Warner Bros. The PG-rated film co-stars Virginia Madsen who pulls double duty this weekend playing the wife to both a bad santa and a grinch. The former Mr. Jolie sells more tickets when he’s not the anchor of a film, so it could be a rough ride this weekend. Appeal to teens and young adults seems weak as the turnout could come from older adults who may also bring with them younger children thanks to the rating. With the violence of "Ghost Rider" and the debut of a trio of R-rated pics, there could be an opportunity with the family crowd. That is, if they already have seen "Bridge to Terabithia." The marketing push has not been too loud so don’t expect a high altitude here. "The Astronaut Farmer" opens in over 2,000 theaters on Friday and may find itself with about $8M.


Billy Bob has the right stuff in "The Astronaut Farmer."

Hitting theaters on a pitstop to what could be solid DVD revenue, the horror film "The Abandoned" enters the marketplace as the weekend’s other new scary movie. The R-rated film tells the story of an American woman who finds terror in Russia when she sets out to find her birth parents. Obviously, opening against Jim Carrey’s new spookfest will hurt the grosses for "The Abandoned." If it were a PG-13 film aimed at teenage girls, it could have been another story, but those over the age of 17 who want a fright will be thinking "23." Lionsgate is only launching "The Abandoned" in about 1,250 locations so a mild $3M gross could result.


No reviews, and no other photos for "The Abandoned."

Last weekend, Nicolas Cage enjoyed a record-breaking Presidents’ Day opening with "Ghost Rider" which grabbed $45.4M over the three-day portion of its holiday bow. The Marvel super hero flick opened much like 2003’s "Daredevil" which launched on the same frame and suffered a 55% drop on the sophomore session. "Ghost Rider" should see similar results as it also attracted much of its fan base last weekend and is facing the same level of competition that the Ben Affleck actioner saw in its second attack. Look for "Ghost Rider" to burn up another $20M which would lift its ten-day tally to $79M.

Disney’s "Bridge to Terabithia" should enjoy a better hold since there is little new competition for its family audience. A 30% decline would give the PG-rated fantasy around $16M for the weekend and a solid $48M after ten days. Aside from crossing his fingers for an Oscar, Eddie Murphy will see another sizable drop in sales for his comedy "Norbit." A 45% fall would give the Paramount release a $9M frame bumping the cume to $74M.

LAST YEAR: Tyler Perry‘s comedy "Madea’s Family Reunion" opened atop the charts with a powerful $30M debut for Lionsgate. The hit flick found its way to $63.3M. Holdovers rounded out the top five with Disney’s "Eight Below" dropping a spot to second with $15.9M in its sophomore frame. The Steve Martin remake "The Pink Panther" took in $11.1M and was followed by "Date Movie"’s $9.1M and the $7.2M of "Curious George." Opening to poor results were the animated film "Doogal" with $3.6M and New Line’s "Running Scared" with $3.4M. Final grosses reached only $7.6M and $6.9M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got wacky cops ("Reno 911!: Miami"), numerological tension ("The Number 23," starring Jim Carrey), a rocket man ("The Astronaut Farmer," starring Billy Bob Thornton), and a haunted house ("The Abandoned"). What do the critics have to say?

On the small screen, the "COPS" parody "Reno 911," with its incompetent lawmen, zany situations, and absurd fashions, is good for its share of laughs. In the multiplex? Critics say "Reno 911!: Miami" is a slightly less arresting proposition. The gang heads to Miami to break up a terrorist plot on spring break; hilarity ensues. Sketch comedy is often on shaky ground when moved from the tube to the big screen, and a few of the critics say "Reno 911" is no exception; they feel the film has some good laughs but ultimately runs out of steam. Others say that fans of the show will get exactly what they want. At 55 percent on the Tomatometer, "911" is a call you have to make for yourself. (Check out an interview with "Reno 911" cast members by RT’s own Jen Yamato.)


"Reno 911!: Miami," invoking the spirit of "Baywatch Nights."

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the number 23, visions of Michael Jordan dance in my head. (Or perhaps former Red Sox first baseman Brian Daubach.) Director Joel Schumacher and star Jim Carrey want the titular figure to be synonymous with psychological intrigue, but the critics say it’s more like the law of diminishing returns. Carrey stars as a man whose wife (Virginia Madsen) has given him a pulp novel that appears to be about his life, and he subsequently becomes fixated on the number 23, which seems to turn up everywhere he goes. The pundits say "The Number 23" is incomprehensible and overly busy, draining the film of suspense. At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to subtract "The Number 23" from your list.


The tomatometer of "Pet Detective" minus the tomatometer of "When Nature Calls" equals …23!

Here’s a high concept for you: "Field of Dreams" in orbit. Sound ridiculous? Well, cynics be darned; critics say "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heartwarming fairytale, an inspirational family film that seems out of place in contemporary Hollywood. The movie tells the tale of a former astronaut (Billy Bob Thornton) who, facing foreclosure on his farm, dreams of building his own rocket against all odds. The pundits say "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heartwarming ride, featuring a strong sense of its Midwestern locale helmed with an unpretentious, pleasant directorial touch by the Polish brothers. At 78 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Astronaut Farmer" may be worth a ride.


"I sure do like them french fried potaters, mmm hmmm."

It appears that the people behind "The Abandoned" have, ahem, abandoned it, since it wasn’t screened for critics. The film tells the story of a woman who returns to the house where she was born in a remote part of Russia; horrifying events ensue. Get a search party together and Guess that Tomatometer.

Also opening this week in limited release: "Starter for 10," a Britcom about a working class kid at a posh university, is at 86 percent; "Glastonbury," a rockumentary about England’s most venerable music festival, is at 73 percent; "Cocaine Angel," a harrowing no-budget indie about a few days in the lives of Florida addicts, is at 60 percent; "Amazing Grace," about William Wilberforce’s 20 year struggle to end slavery in the British Empire, is at 55 percent; and "Gray Matters," a rom-com about a brother and sister expanding their romantic horizons starring Heather Graham, is at 20 percent.


Morrissey waxes poetic about his comatose girlfriend in "Glastonbury."

Finally, props to FernandoDANTE and alwaysforevernow for coming the closest to guessing "Ghost Rider"’s Tomatometer of 27 percent. Get your respective motors running, and then, subsequently, head out on the highway.

Recent Jim Carrey Movies:
———————————-
27% — Fun With Dick and Jane (2005)
71% — Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
93% — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
49% — Bruce Almighty (2003)
42% — The Majestic (2001)

Recent Billy Bob Thornton Movies:
——————————————-
27% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
46% — The Ice Harvest (2005)
45% — The Bad News Bears (2005)
79% — Chrystal (2004)
82% — Friday Night Lights (2004)

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