The weeks of sleeper horror flicks ("The Messengers") and comedy spoofs ("Epic Movie") dominating the box office will most likely come to a halt this weekend with two high-profile, seemingly surefire flicks seeking to stake their claim: "Norbit" and "Hannibal Rising."
Mugging it up as an obese woman may seem beneath most Oscar favorites (don't prove us wrong, Forest Whitaker!) but it's right up the alley of one Eddie Murphy in his latest comedy, "Norbit." While it may disappoint some Eddie fans (isn't Martin Lawrence supposed to steal Eddie's ideas and not the other way around?), to see him go broad in the wake of his arguably greatest artistic moment — his Oscar-nominated performance in "Dreamgirls" — you can bet this one will pack in crowds. "Norbit" is the latest of Murphy's latex-heavy tour de forces and finds him playing his own love interest — not to mention his surrogate father, Mr. Wong (yes, an elderly Asian man).
There's another familiar face returning to movie screens this weekend, but don't believe the posters — it's not Anthony Hopkins. "Hannibal Rising" is the latest installment from famed author Thomas Harris, and it clearly hopes to cash in on some of the gobs of cash the last three Hannibal Lecter films have hauled in. The good news for this new one? Lecter is back and getting into all kinds of trouble yet again. The bad news? Despite glimpses of Hopkins in various advertisements, everyone's favorite cannibal is now played by French actor Gaspard Ulliel in this prequel that explains how the mad doctor got to be so mad in the first place. Throw in the fact that the film comes from the director of "The Girl With a Pearl Earring" and you've got a big bloody question mark of a flick.
That's a tough one-two punch of new contenders for last week's #1 flick, "The Messengers," to contend with. Look for the Kristen Stewart horror flick and Mandy Moore's "Because I Said So" to take steep drops in their second go round.
The Predictions: Last week saw celebrity-guest prognosticator Chris Brown "stomp" the competition here in the Projection Booth. It was a rare win for the celebrity guests who have taken the weekly title just two times in 15 weeks of competition. This week none other than the Silver Surfer himself, actor Doug Jones, hopes to keep the momentum going. Jones seems to have been working under a lucky star lately, starring in "Pan's Labyrinth" and of course this summer's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." You'll have to see if his good fortune continues come Monday, when the box office results are in.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
· Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Norbit" ($28 million)
" 'Norbit' seems to be the no-brainer, but the only question is how huge it will be. My guess is it won't be quite as huge as the big-boned lady Eddie portrays in the flick but will still make enough to leave "Hannibal" sinking. I'm going to predict a $28 million take."
· Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Norbit" ($31 million)
"Much as it pains me to enable Eddie Murphy and predict a giant box-office haul for a silly comedy, I have to go with 'Norbit.' It's broad as can be, and Murphy is clearly hot. I just wish he'd take 'Dreamgirls' as a cue and class up the résumé a bit in the future. Please Eddie, no more 'Beverly Hills Cop'! Please!"
· Doug Jones, star of "Pan's Labyrinth": "Norbit" ($17 million)
"My guess on the winner this week is going to be 'Norbit,' especially with all the heat that's on Eddie Murphy right now with his Oscar nomination, his Golden Globes win and SAG Awards win. It's old-school Eddie being his goofy self, and it's been advertised a lot. So I'm gonna say 'Norbit' ... the opening-weekend figure, I predict, will be $17 million."
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