'Not That Into You,' 'Push' also opening wide

Warner Bros./New Line’s femme pic “He’s Just Not That Into You” is expected to lead the domestic box office as it opens today despite a crowded pack of new entries that includes Sony’s family title “The Pink Panther 2.”

“Into You” opens in 3,175 runs; other debuts are Summit Entertainment’s sci-fi thriller “Push” and CGI-animated 3-D family title “Coraline,” which marks Focus Features’ first foray into the family and 3-D markets.

Another strong session is expected thanks to the four openers and a healthy crop of holdovers. Twentieth Century Fox’s action-thriller “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, is expected to land high in its second weekend.

Based on the popular self-help book of the same name, “He’s Just Not That Into You” has a clear lead over the competish and is tracking strongly with women of all ages. Female-driven pics have seen record grosses over the last year.

Pic, directed by Ken Kwapis, has a strong shot at opening north of $20 million before facing competition next weekend from “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Ensemble cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson and Drew Barrymore. The big question: Will many men go to see “Into You?”

It’s likewise hard to predict where the other openers will land. “The Pink Panther 2,” playing in 3,243 and returning Steve Martin in the title role, has an advantage as a known brand, plus it’s family friendly, meaning it could supplant Sony’s sleeper B.O. hit “Paul Blart Mall Cop” as the comedy of the hour.

“The Pink Panther” debuted to $20 million in early February 2006 on its way to cuming $82.2 million domestically. “Pink Panther 2” was directed by Harald Swart; Shawn Levy directed the 2006 film.

“Pink Panther 2” will compete with “Coraline” for kids and families; the latter pic is whipping up strong interest among young girls. Directed by Henry Selick, “Coraline” is the first stop-action film to be shot in 3-D.

Higher-priced 3-D tickets will boost “Coraline’s” grosses. Film is opening in 1,004 3-D runs and 1,294 conventional theaters for a total count of 2,298. Voice cast features Dakota Fanning, Ian McShane and Teri Hatcher.

Fanning also stars in Summit’s “Push,” which opens in 2,313 theaters. Action-thriller is the favored pic among younger men and teen boys.

Directed by Paul McGuigan and also starring Chris Evans and Djimon Hounsou, pic revolves around a group of expats living in Hong Kong who band together because of their psychic abilities to fight a clandestine government agency.

“Push” is Summit’s first release since Thanksgiving blockbuster “Twilight.”

Specialty fare

On the specialty side, the Oscar best picture nominees will continue to look for an awards bump. Only one is expanding, Fox Searchlight’s B.O. hit “Slumdog Millionaire,” which ups its theater count to 1,724 runs.

There’s a handful of limited openers at the specialty B.O., including Third Rail Releasing’s Kristin Bell-Dan Fogler adventure comedy “Fanboys,” which opens in 44 theaters. Magnolia’s “Chocolate” goes out in seven runs and UTV’s “Dev D” in four.

On the foreign front, the most notable move comes from Warner Bros., which expands “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” into five of the biggest markets — France, Japan, Russia, Spain and the U.K.

“Button” has already taken in a solid $40 million overseas early in its run, led by $10 million in Australia and last weekend’s $5 million launch in Germany. Warner Bros. has staged an extensive push with multiple international premieres designed to take advantage of Brad Pitt’s star power and build on awards season buzz.

Awards season fave “Slumdog Millionaire,” which has banked $40 million early in its foreign run, goes into Mexico. Universal’s expanding “Changeling” into Australia with $52 million from overseas.

It’s also a key weekend for U’s “Frost/Nixon” with launches in Germany, Italy and Mexico. It’s grossed $4.4 million so far from 11 markets.

The frame won’t see much day-and-date activity. “He’s Just Not That Into You” goes day-and-date in Denmark and the U.K., with New Line having sold off foreign rights to finance the project; Sony’s launching “The Pink Panther 2” in Central America, Chile and Malaysia: U’s opening “Coraline” in Brazil and Mexico.

Other openings include “Bride Wars” in Brazil and Germany, “Seven Pounds” in South Korea and Taiwan, “The Punisher: War Zone” in the U.K. and “Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans” in Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.

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