Scads of newcomers are appearing at your local multiplex this week — in fact, a few are probably there already thanks to Valentine's Day falling on a Wednesday this year.
Looking to cash in on your date-night dollar on Wednesday were Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore's romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics" and "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls." The former flick feels familiar enough, and that's probably the idea. Grant knows romantic comedy (see "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Notting Hill"), and we know to expect charming stammering in return. Add adorable Barrymore to the mix, and Warner Bros. is hoping for the must-see date movie for Valentine's weekend and beyond (see " 'Music And Lyrics': Their Funny Valentine, By Kurt Loder").
Meanwhile, being late to the party might not mean much when the name of your movie is "Ghost Rider." Opening on Friday (February 16) and hoping to stave off a bunch of lukewarm (we're being kind) pre-release buzz is Nicolas Cage's long-awaited flick about a stunt driver by day/ damned superhero by night. For years, fanboys have been salivating at the prospect of seeing the famed flaming-skull avenger brought to life on the big screen. This weekend is their chance to see if the reality lives up to their imaginations (see "Nic Cage's Ghost Rider Likes Soft Rock, Jelly Beans — And Chimps"). One thing's for sure: This one is in the hands of comic-book geeks. "Daredevil" director Mark Steven Johnson helms the flick, and Cage is as big a comics-obsessed A-list actor as there is, as evidenced by the name of his son, Kal-El (yes, that's Superman's Kryptonian name).
"Bridge to Terabithia" may not have the name recognition of "The Chronicles of Narnia" or "The Lord of the Rings," but Disney is hoping for at least a fraction of the audience of those fantasy epics with this adaptation of a beloved children's book (see "Could 'Alaizabel Cray' Be Next 'Harry Potter'? Kids' Books Ripe For Films"). No other film in wide release is courting the family audience this much, but with no stars, Disney looks to have an uphill fight.
Tyler Perry deserves your respect. His last two films have flown under Hollywood's radar but have opened at #1. Only 10 months ago, in fact, "Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion" opened to an astounding $30 million (see "He's A Box-Office Star, But People Are Still Asking: 'Who's Tyler Perry?' "). We've learned our lesson around here. So the ball is in your court, Mr. Perry. Can you surprise yet again? How about taking out "Ghost Rider"? Now that would be impressive.
Opening in limited release is the true-life espionage thriller "Breach," starring Ryan Phillippe and Chris Cooper. Unless adult audiences go positively gaga for spooks in trench coats this weekend, this one should be thankful to break into the top five.
Finally, don't forget about reigning box-office champ "Norbit" (see " 'Norbit' Rising: Eddie Murphy Beats 'Hannibal,' Scores Another #1"). Eddie Murphy's crude comedy wouldn't seem to be the ideal Valentine's week diversion for you and your special someone (usually fat suits don't equal romance), but you never know.
The Predictions: Love may be in the air this Valentine's week, but not in the Projection Booth, where winning is everything and holding hands is for sissies. No, we can't get along in here, not when bragging rights are hotly contested. This week, with so many new films vying for the box-office crown, it's a little more tense than usual in the booth. But how can you stay tense when the lovely Heather Graham visits, even if she's unwilling to talk trash about her friends?
What will be #1? How much will it rake in?
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Ghost Rider" ($34 million)
"He's one of my favorite comic-book characters of all time, so I'd be earning myself a penance stare if I didn't pick my boneheaded homey Ghost Rider to win this weekend. Hell, even 'Hulk' opened at #1. Factor in Nic Cage's significant fanbase, and I'm predicting $34 million — more than enough for the Hell Cycle to mow down the always-formidable Tyler Perry."
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls" ($31 million)
"I want to predict a landslide for 'Ghost Rider.' I really do. But Tyler Perry is a force to be reckoned with, and I don't know about those trailers for Nic Cage's flick. I'll just say they don't scream 'awesome' to me. So I'm going with the underdog, Tyler Perry, all the way!"
Heather Graham, star of "Gray Matters": No Prediction
"I don't know. I have friends who are actors, so I don't want to not say their movies. I don't want to dis somebody's movie. I have friends in all those movies! I don't want to be dissing them!"
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