'Exorcism' bowing opposite 'The Man'

Arriving into theaters for the first fall frame is Sony and Screen Gems’ thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” which will bow at 2,981 theaters while New Line starts laffer “The Man” at 2,040 venues.

Last fall, Sony found good luck in September with Revolution’s “The Forgotten,” which bowed with $21 million. The appetite for femme-fueled frighteners has dropped off a bit since then.

But even so, with strong tracking among both women and men under age 25, “Emily Rose” should open in the range of recent scary titles, such as the $16 million start for “The Skeleton Key” and the $9.9 million bow for “Dark Water.”

“Emily” should have no trouble securing the top spot. “It’s feeling good,” said Sony distrib chief Rory Bruer. “The picture cost less than $20 million; they’ve done a tremendous job with publicity and marketing. If we do $15 million, we’re really, really happy. We’re very hopeful.”

Last week’s champ, 20th Century Fox’s “The Transporter 2″ has been posting good midweek numbers of about $1 million a day. This weekend, though, its young male aud will likely be distracted by the opening of the NFL season. And, since pics usually post steeper-than-normal drops when they come off holiday frames, a 50% drop is likely. Such a perf would put it at around $10 million.

“The Man,” which features the odd-couple pairing of Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy, with its much smaller theater count, is not expected to get past $10 million.

Both Universal’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which should cross the $75 million milestone this weekend, and Focus’ “The Constant Gardener” are also expected to hold well through the frame.

This weekend, Miramax is starting its Robert Redford/Jennifer Lopez starrer “An Unfinished Life” on a fairly aggressive 139.

Miramax, through its Dimension label, is releasing “Curandero” this weekend with two screens.

Also bowing in limited release are Yash Raj’s “Salaam namaste” on 63 screens, Halestorm’s “Mobsters and Mormons” on 32 and Freestyle’s “Green Street Hooligans” on seven.

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