Projection Booth: Can A Puppet Steal Box-Office Crown From '300'?

Spartan warriors face trio of newcomers: 'Dead Silence,' 'I Think I Love My Wife,' 'Premonition.'

The box-office odds are pretty good for "300" even as the bloody technological breakthrough faces three new wide releases.

After earning a record-breaking $70.8 million in its first weekend, the adrenaline-pumping action flick looks to be a strong leader at the multiplex (see " '300' Destroys Box-Office Rivals With Record-Setting Haul"). Films like "300" don't come along too often, and when a movie's chief competition is a puppet, prospects are looking good.

Speaking of that creepy dummy — we mean that in a good way — the makers of "Saw" are hoping to spawn another chilling franchise this weekend with "Dead Silence" (see " 'Saw' Scribes Reveal Jigsaw's Roots, What Scares Them Most"). We'd be tempted to make fun of a flick that stars Donnie Wahlberg, but the studio sent MTV News an actual ventriloquist dummy from the film, and its demented smile is haunting us even now.

Slightly less disturbing is the fact that Sandra Bullock has chosen to follow up last year's "The Lake House" with this week's "Premonition." It's another slightly confusing, time-shifting story that makes pithy descriptions in stories like this nearly impossible to write. Suffice it to say, her character's husband (Julian McMahon) may or may not be dead. Twists and thrills ensue.

Rounding out the trio of newcomers is Chris Rock's romantic dramedy "I Think I Love My Wife." Rock is a triple threat on this one, co-writing, directing and, of course, starring in a loose remake of the Eric Rohmer film "Chloe in the Afternoon." With only the already-forgotten "Head of State" under his belt as a director, Rock is hoping to prove himself as a reliable filmmaker with this one.

And finally, don't you dare forget about those "Wild Hogs" (see "John Travolta: 'Timberlake Has My Moves, For Sure' "). The oddest quartet of male leads since Oliver Platt and Charlie Sheen were Musketeers will most likely continue to go strong at the box office, taking only a slight dip in its second weekend. Look for this comedy to continue to ride strong through the spring.

The Predictions: Sometimes we meet actors and directors who are reluctant to step into the Projection Booth. You see, it can take some arm-twisting to ask folks in the industry to bet on or against their own. We thought Sarah Polley, an actress who's made her career straddling the line between indie and mainstream films, might be one of those more hesitant types. But the "Dawn of the Dead" star, and director of the upcoming "Away From Her," was game to play. Of course her prediction came with a bit of counter-blockbuster commentary too.

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

Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "300" ($38 million)

"Never bet against Spartan resolve. Hollywood learned that lesson last week with an opening gross that would seem to put Zack Snyder's movie on a course for something like $'300' million, and I'm sure not gonna go up against Leonidas' abs this week. I always thought '300' would be a word-of-mouth thing, so I still assume it will have a very strong second frame. I'm thinking that Snyder and his minions will add another $38 million to their war chest."

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "300" ($32 million)

"How can you not go with '300'? It dismantled the competition like a particularly irate Spartan soldier last weekend, and this week I see none of the newcomers posing a legitimate threat. So how much loot can the warriors grab the second time around? I feel like there was a mighty must-see factor the first couple of nights that can't help but mean a sizable drop. Let's say $32 million."

Sarah Polley, "Away From Her" director: "Dead Silence"

"Almost across the board, the worst movie always is #1 at the box office. I'll bet whatever is #1 is the worst one. I'm going to say 'Dead Silence.' I don't know. Those 'Saw' movies did pretty well. If I go see a really big movie this weekend, it'll be the Chris Rock movie. What do I win if I am absolutely wrong? I want to win something for being the worst person you've ever had do this."

Check out everything we've got on "300," "Dead Silence," "I Think I Love My Wife" and "Premonition."

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