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Aliens aiming for boffo box office

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise’s “War of the Worlds” embarks on a six-day opening stretch today, invading 3,908 theaters. The nearly weeklong “weekend” means “Worlds” could be a blockbuster by the time the Fourth of July fireworks go off Monday night. The movie has pre-sold elements – recognizable title, director and star – but is harder to gauge than a blockbuster franchise, so Paramount and DreamWorks don’t know what to expect for their tentpole (which they peg at a $135 million budget). “It’s not like ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Batman,’ ” said Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen. “You’re not dealing with a sequel or a movie with a cult following.” Tracking has been strong in all four quadrants for the PG-13 H.G. Wells adaptation. Polls show 21% pick “Worlds” as their first choice for the weekend, with men over age 25 showing the most interest. Still, the tracking numbers aren’t at the heights reached by “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” but they are significantly higher than those for “Batman Begins.”

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