B.O. battles Oscarcast

Dimension pic 'Cursed' hits screens

While exhibs wait to book Sunday’s Oscar winners next weekend, three wide releases arrive in theaters today: Dimension’s horror pic “Cursed” will bow in 2,805 theaters; Revolution and Sony delivers Tommy Lee Jones-Cedric the Entertainer laffer “Man of the House” to 2,422 locations; and Lions Gate unspools “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 1,483 locations.

While Will Smith’s “Hitch” has a good chance of staying on top of the box office charts for a third week (the Sony pic passed the $100 million mark Thursday night), interest among young females in all three new films may put a dent in the laffer.

“Cursed,” from “Scream” team Wes Craven and scribe Kevin Williamson, is the most likely of the new contenders to emerge atop the box office if it reaches industry estimates of a high teens opening. Pic is the latest in a string of PG-13 horror pics to arrive in the theaters, following “Boogeyman” and “White Noise.”

Warner Bros.’ “Constantine” will also be a factor at the box office this weekend. After posting a three-day bow of $29.8 million, a drop around 50% would still be a mid-teens gross.

The Oscar kudocast has in the past dampened Sunday evening grosses, but the youth appeal of the newcomers will make them the least likely to be affected.

While this is the last frame when the nominees will collect coin from kudos curiosity seekers, if the big category winners are still in theaters, they will most likely get a boost in screens and biz next weekend.

Meanwhile, the original “Deep Throat” porn flick will return to screens this weekend, but only as a midnight attraction. C.E.D., which is handling distrib for pic’s owner, Arrow Prods., has booked the film on three screens: the Roxy in San Francisco; the Sunset 5 in L.A.; and the Colorado One in Pasadena. C.E.D. will not be publicly reporting grosses from the six shows skedded for the frame, following the custom for midnight shows.

Spurred by the release of doc “Inside Deep Throat,” Arrow has decided to reissue the porn pic several weeks ago, but has now decided to push it on the midnight circuit, adding other cities in future weeks.

‘Diary’ opens

Lions Gate co-prexy Tom Ortenberg said the launch of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” is intentionally being held back to allow for expansion next week.

While the initial run is focusing on theaters with heavy African-American traffic, he said research has shown it has a good chance of crossing in future weeks.

“White audiences like the movie and respond to the marketing materials just as well as African-American ones,” he said.

An entire batch of promos are planned for next week, including next Friday’s “Oprah Winfrey Show,” which will dedicate the entire hourlong seg to the pic.

“We think we’re going to open very big this weekend, and then have a big week two,” Ortenberg said. “It’s a carefully staged campaign.”

Among the pics bowing in limited release this weekend is Sony Pictures Classics’ “Up & Down,” which is the Czech Republic’s official entry in the Academy Awards.

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