Playing ‘Chicken’

'Get Rich' taking aim at Disney's fowl

Paramount’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” is the highest- profile opener in a weekend likely to be topped once again by “Chicken Little.”

50 Cent starrer is looking likely to edge out the second weekend of “Jarhead” for second place, with an opening in the mid- to high teens likely.

Pic, which is playing on 1,652 screens, bowed to a modest $3 million-plus Wednesday.

Also debuting are the “Jumanji” sequel “Zathura” from Sony and the first solo release from Weinstein Co., “Derailed.”

No matter how “Rich” ends up doing, it won’t be close to the film Par was likely hoping to match, Universal’s “8 Mile.” Eminem starrer was also based on the real life of its rap star, also produced by Jimmy Iovine and Paul Rosenberg and opened on the same weekend in November 2002. “8 Mile,” which was much better reviewed, bowed to $51.2 million on 2,470 screens and went on to make $116.8 million domestic.

And this might not help: Reports surfaced on Thursday that pic was pulled from a Pennsylvania theater where a man was shot and killed. Pic opened on two screens.

Sony has relatively modest expectations for “Zathura,” which will open with 3,223 playdates. Family pic has been well reviewed, but looks likely to bow in the low teens.

It faces the additional challenge of following a relatively strong $40 million debut for “Chicken Little” and coming a week before “Harry Potter,” which both appeal to “Zathura’s” core aud.

In December of 1995, “Jumanji” opened to $11 million on 2,487 screens before going on to make $100 million domestic.

“This time of year allows a number of family films to open and be successful,” Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer said. “We may not have the biggest opening but it should continue to play well through the holidays.”

Perf of “Chicken Little” in its second weekend will help indicate whether a high profile family pic can indeed shows legs this holiday season.

Its main competition at the bottom of the top five will be a much less expensive film that had lower expectations from the start — thriller “Derailed.” Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen starrer will hit 2,441 screens and is the first pic to be released solo by Weinstein Co.

In limited release, Focus’ new “Pride & Prejudice” adaptation starring Keira Knightley hits 215 screens, while Fox Searchlight’s “Bee Season” bows on just 21. Also opening are Naomi Watts mockumentary “Ellie Parker” from Strand on six screens in N.Y., L.A. and Seattle, and Sarah Silverman comedy concert docu “Jesus Is Magic” from Roadside Attractions on seven.

Foreign fare

On the foreign front, the key battle will be a faceoff between family fare in the form of Sony/Spyglass’ “The Legend of Zorro,” which has easily won the past two weekends at the international box office, and BVI’s adult-oriented thriller “Flightplan,” which is expanding into 15 new markets.

As had been expected, foreign performance for the “Zorro” sequel has easily outstripped its domestic action. Heading into the weekend, offshore grosses have hit $64 million, or about double the Stateside cume, with Sony expecting the pic to cross the $100 million mark by the end of its run.

“Zorro,” already in 53 markets, is opening in South Africa, Egypt and 10 other markets. Print count should eclipse 6,200.

“Flightplan,” which has cumed $85 million domestically and $44 million foreign in two dozen markets, launches in five major territories — Australia, France, Russia, South Korea and Spain.

Frame represents the final weekend before Warner’s massive day-and-date launch of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” As a result, distribs are staging a variety of targeted debuts, such as Sony’s expansion of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” into Mexico and eight other markets; Fox’s launch of “In Her Shoes” into Australia, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and four other territories.BVI has also opted for a gradual release overseas for “Chicken Little,” which had hit $7.7 million mid-week from its first seven markets including Mexico and Russia.

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