Post-turkey doldrums poised to gobble up B.O.

Box Office Preview

Here comes the “Dead Zone.”

National box office over the first post-Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally as unexciting as week-old mashed potatoes, and this year looks to be no exception.

For the first time in nearly a year, no new wide releases are set to open. Last weekend’s front-runners “Flubber” and “Alien Resurrection,” meanwhile, are likely to suffer steep dropoffs from their holiday debuts.

The weekend’s one prominent limited opening is Miramax’s “Good Will Hunting,” which bows in seven theaters in Gotham and L.A.

Conventional wisdom has it that the period is usually a dud because school vacations have not yet begun and older auds are busy with holiday preparations. Last year at this time, the top 60 films grossed just $58.2 million, nearly a 50% drop from the Friday-Sunday portion of Turkey Day frame — and that included the $10 million opening of Universal’s “Daylight.” The year before was even worse.

Given that history, it’s not surprising studios avoid this period like the plague. Still, some observers had expected at least one distributor to step in to fill the void. Dimension’s highly anticipated “Scream 2” seemed a probable choice, since its core audience of teenagers is the demographic least likely to be preoccupied with Christmas shopping and tree trimming.

Of course, this is only the calm before the storm. The Christmas melee begins in earnest on Dec. 12, when “Scream 2,” “Home Alone 3″and “For Richer or Poorer” go into theaters.

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