Pic set to wage 'War' on Spielberg-Cruise pic

Forced to move off the Fourth of July by “War of the Worlds,” 20th Century Fox is fielding its “Fantastic Four” this weekend at 3,602 theaters. Disney, meanwhile, counterprograms with its horror pic “Dark Water” at 2,657.

Though “Four” will be facing off against the second weekend of Paramount and DreamWorks’ “Worlds,” there’s a bit of a contest for the No. 1 spot.

Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise alien invasion pic grossed $64.9 million over the Friday to Sunday portion last weekend; a 50% second-week dip would put it around $32 million this weekend.

Most industry estimates have “Four” opening slightly higher, but it could end up being close.

“Coming off a holiday weekend, anything lower than 50% would be great,” said Par distrib chief Wayne Lewellen.

Fox distrib chief Bruce Snyder said, “It’s very family-friendly and light and fun and very different from a lot of the product out there right now.”

He added that the tone of “Four” separates it from sci-fi thriller “Worlds.”

“I think ‘War of the Worlds’ is going to have a terrific weekend,” he said, “but we have a lot more humor and are lighter fare, so I think we can co-exist.”

Tracking on “Four” shows aud is strongest among males, though it’s pretty even between those over and under age 25.

“Dark Water” is the first horror film to be released in a while after a nearly one-a-week pace through much of the winter and spring. The only other frightener to bow this summer was “House of Wax” back in the first week of May. It grossed $12.1 million in its first frame.

As with many successful, femme-led frighteners, aud interest in “Water,” which stars Jennifer Connelly, is strongest among young females.

In the limited-release arena, ThinkFilm delivers its wheelchair rugby doc “Murderball” on eight screens in Gotham and L.A. Indie distrib has been advertising heavily on the pic and has high hopes that it will quickly cross over to mainstream auds.

Also opening on eight bicoastal screens is Palm’s “Cronicas.”

Sony Pictures Classics intros two pictures this weekend in the two cities: “The Beautiful Country” on six screens and “Saraband” on four.

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