Projection Booth: Can ‘Epic Movie’ Trump ‘Smokin’ Aces’?

'Catch and Release,' Oscar nominees also

A quiet week at the box office gives way to a solid group of newcomers this weekend, including the latest spoof movie from the makers of “Scary Movie.”

“Epic Movie,” starring Kal Penn and Crispin Glover, is hoping for a fraction of the haul garnered by the movies it skewers (including “Borat,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Chronicles of Narnia”). Penn’s name didn’t do much for his recent “Van Wilder” sequel, but the prospects for this one look considerably better given the strong showing of films like “Date Movie” and the aforementioned “Scary Movie” franchise.

Last week, the latest horror flick trying to capitalize on our insatiable taste for scares, “The Hitcher,” performed like an actual horror show (see ” ‘Stomp The Yard’ Runs Over ‘The Hitcher’ At The Box Office” ). This weekend, the people behind “Blood and Chocolate” hope their werewolf flick scares up a little bit more of an audience, but with no big names, its chances for drawing box-office blood look iffy.

“Smokin’ Aces” doesn’t suffer from the same problems as those low-profile horror flicks. IIts cast is, well, smokin’ (see ” ‘Aces’ Director Says Alicia Keys, Common Give Him The Upper Hand” ). This raucous action caper boasts everyone from Ben Affleck and Jeremy Piven to Alicia Keys and Common. But, forgive the pun, will it all add up to a winning hand? “Catch and Release” may look like a Sandra Bullock film from five years ago, but trust us, it’s totally different. For one thing, this time the brunette lead is Jennifer Garner. For another, the comic relief comes courtesy of Kevin Smith, looking to prove that his dramatic range extends beyond Silent Bob (see “Will Kevin Smith Direct Again? Filmmaker Talks Sequels — And Nudity” ).

With the Oscar nominations in (see “‘Dreamgirls’ Leads Oscar Noms — Without Best Picture Or Beyonce” ), a bunch of films are looking to capitalize on renewed attention. “Volver,” the flick that made Penélope Cruz the first Spanish woman to earn a Best Actress nomination, expands to 600 screens. Two nominations for the dynamic female duo of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are giving “Notes on a Scandal” hope for solid business as it moves into 800 theaters. As for competition from returning flicks, this weekend is unlikely to see a familiar film land at the #1 spot. “A Night at the Museum” and “Stomp the Yard” both have seen their best box-office days come and go.

The Predictions: It seems like it’s been a long time since one of our celebrity guests won the coveted title in the Projection Booth. Actor Aidan Quinn — soon to be starring opposite Meryl Streep in “Dark Matter” — hopes Irish eyes are smiling on his pick. Maybe he knows what he’s doing: He’s the first star to narrow his box-office bank down to a decimal point. Check back on Monday to see how he did.

What’s the #1 flick? How much will it in?

Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: “Epic Movie” ($25 million)
“Almost exactly a year ago, ‘Date Movie’ opened to $22 million — and it was terrible! I see no reason why ‘Epic Movie’ wouldn’t make just as much, whether it’s any good or not. It spoofs everything from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to ‘Pirates’ to ‘Superman,’ and if it makes a third of what those others pulled in on their opening weekends, it would be considered an opening of epic proportions.”

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: “Epic Movie” ($18 million)
“If only to see Crispin Glover enjoy a weekend on top of the box-office heap, I’m picking ‘Epic Movie’ to win in a walk. I loved the early ‘Smokin’ Aces’ trailer, but its marketing seems like kind of a jumble. It might be a good flick, but does anyone know what it’s actually about?”

Aidan Quinn, star of “Dark Matter”: “Smokin’ Aces” ($22.5 million)
“I’ll go with Jeremy Piven’s movie ['Smokin' Aces']. His dad was my acting teacher, and I’ve been watching Jeremy act since he was 13 years old in the Young People’s Company with Joan Cusack and John Cusack. … He’s so talented, and it was a long time coming. It’s nice to see a big talent get recognized, and I think it’s a real vindication for his dad, because his dad was a wonderful actor and great teacher but he never got the big-name success he deserved. I’ll say the film will make $22 million-point-five.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Epic Movie,” “Blood and Chocolate,” “Smokin’ Aces” and “Catch and Release.”

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