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Film rush hour

9 bows, 3 roll-outs mark year-end deluge

If the malls seem crowded, consider the glut at the multiplex.

During the Christmas period, from Tuesday through Sunday, distribs are sending nine debuts and three expansions down the B.O. chimney.

Wide bows include “Galaxy Quest,” DreamWorks’ first release since “American Beauty” on Sept. 15, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Man on the Moon” and “Any Given Sunday.”

Plus, with megaplexing taking effect, the number of showtimes keeps expanding.

“It’s a little more crowded than usual at this time of year,” said Jim Tharp, distrib chief at DreamWorks. “There are between 9,000 and 10,000 runs opening between now and Christmas Day.”

New entries will match up against two durable family films: Sony’s “Stuart Little” and Disney’s “Toy Story 2.”

After three weeks atop the charts, “Toy 2” yielded to “Stuart” last weekend. The live-action/computer-animated E.B. White adaptation racked up $15 million.

But that doesn’t mean the Pixar-animated “Toy 2” is retreating — on the contrary, history suggests some heady days may yet be ahead of it.

The holiday span is marked by above-average weekday totals for most films because kids are out of school and many shoppers’ errands are done. On the weekends, pics can actually see grosses hold steady, defying the usual pattern of week-to-week erosion.

Mark Zucker, senior distrib veep at Sony, said Christmas weekend tends to be roughly on par with the prior frame, even though “Christmas Eve is not a big moviegoing day.”

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