Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ Could Slash Competition — But Christopher Walken Has ‘Balls,’ In Projection Booth

Which film will take the #1 spot at this weekend's box office?

Thanksgiving bouquets being sold by Labor Day, Christmas sales advertised alongside back-to-school extravaganzas — every year, it seems, the holiday barrage comes a little bit earlier. Well, forget crisp air and fall-semester midterms, this weekend “Halloween” will be an end-of-summer event.

A reboot? A re-imagining? A redo? Call it what you will, most Rob Zombie fans are hoping his new “Halloween” is simply kick-ass. John Carpenter’s now-familiar story of Michael Myers’ escape from a mental institution, his fascination with Laurie Strode (played in the update by relative newcomer Scout Taylor-Compton) and his murderous game of cat and mouse with Dr. Loomis (here, Malcolm McDowell), “Halloween” is often credited as being the first — and the very best — teen slasher film, which influenced everything from “Friday the 13th” to “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Can the update do the same thing? It’s no secret that the horror genre has taken a decided turn for the worse in recent years, substituting torture and sadism for genuine thrills — and, as a result, it has drastically affected horror’s stature at the box office. Don’t think audiences have soured on the new breed of horror? Ask Eli Roth or the makers of “Captivity.”

But by going back to the genre’s roots, can Zombie’s “Halloween” bring horror out of the box-office ghetto? To say otherwise would take a huge set of …

Ping-pong balls, of course, which are on full display in “Balls of Fury,” a comedy from the demented minds behind “The State” and “Reno 911!” Up-and-comer Dan Fogler stars as a former Olympic table-tennis champion recruited to go undercover into illegal (and deadly) Asian tournaments. But the guy who (predictably) steals the show is Christopher Walken, the only actor we know of whose mere presence brings immediate smiles to our faces.

This six-degrees scenario is pretty easy: Christopher Walken was in “Catch Me If You Can” with Leonardo DiCaprio (1), who was in “The Departed” with Matt Damon (2), who starred in “Syriana” alongside George Clooney (3), who was in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with John Goodman (4), who’s in “Death Sentence” … with Kevin Bacon (5). The revenge flick from “Saw” master James Wan opens in 1,900 theaters.

Or 1,898 more than “The Nines,” John August’s trippy take on reality starring Ryan Reynolds. The heady flick opens in very limited release this weekend.

The Predictions: Can “Halloween” slash the competition, or does “Balls” have it where it counts? We asked our experts.

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

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: “Halloween” ($18 million)
“All right, this weekend I really feel like I’m taking a stab in the dark with my prediction, and I swear that’s not intended to be a ‘Halloween’ joke. Sure, there’s Rob Zombie’s much hyped ‘Halloween’ re-imagining, but ‘Balls of Fury’ has Christopher Walken with crazy hair — plus it’s about ping-pong! Oh, what to do? I’ll go with Zombie. Why not?”

Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: “Halloween” ($21 million)
“I doubt that ‘Balls of Fury’ will take the weekend — although it certainly won’t be for lack of advertising. And I would personally pay my $10 just to never have to watch ‘The Nines’ again. Instead, I’m gonna bet that Michael Myers will make a killing this weekend, and that “Halloween” will come early this year. If the crap-tastic “H20″ could open with $17 million some 10 years ago, I can’t see how the first truly scary slasher movie in nearly a decade wouldn’t be good for at least $21 million. Plus, there’s bound to be a few hundred tickets sold to people who misread the poster and think it’s a film about zombies, rather than a movie made by one.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Halloween,” “Balls of Fury,” “Death Sentence” and “The Nines.”

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