'District,' 'Wife' in showdown of the demos

Get ready for the showdown of the demos at the weekend box office as Sony goes after younger men with sci-fi pic “District 9″ and Warner Bros./ New Line romances the ladies with “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”

Neither will have much wiggle room, since they open one week after Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and female-skewing pic “Julie and Julia.” “District 9″ opens on 3,049 screens, while “Wife” tallies 2,988.

There are three other wide openers: Disney’s animated “Ponyo,” from Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (927 runs); Summit Entertainment/ Walden Media’s teen musical “Bandslam” (2,121 runs); and Paramount Vantage’s Jerry Piven comedy “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” (1,838 runs).

Most will be eying the race between “District 9,” produced by Peter Jackson, and “G.I. Joe,” which opened to $54.7 million last weekend. Its cume through Wednesday was $71.9 million.

“District 9″ is about apartheid against aliens, who are housed in South Africa. Tracking is strongest among males 17 to 35.

Box office observers expect “District 9″ to open in the 20s, but it could overperform if word of mouth is strong. Sony has waged an aggressive viral marketing campaign for the film.

“Time Traveler’s Wife,” starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, is based on the bestselling time-travel romance by Audrey Niffenegger. German filmmaker Robert Schwenke directed.

Tracking is strong for the film, indicating that it could take the lead over the soph sesh of “Julie and Julia.” The latter opened to $20 million last weekend and has cumed $28.6 million through Wednesday.

“Ponyo” opens in the U.S a year after its international run. The film, about a young fish that wants to become human, grossed $183.4 million overseas, including a gross in Japan of $165.6 million.

Miyazaki’s credits include “Princess Mononoke” and “Spirited Away,” one the top grossers of all time in Japan.

A finish in the single digits is expected for “Bandslam” and “The Goods.”

“Bandslam” stars Disney Channel’s Vanessa Hudgens and Aly Michalka, along with Gaelan Connell, Scott Porter and Lisa Kudrow. The romantic comedy tells the story of a teenager who seeks revenge on her ex-boyfriend by forming a band of her own.

“The Goods,” produced by the Par Vantage label, was helmed by comedian and filmmaker Neal Brennan. It also stars Ed Helms and Ken Jeong. Storyline revolves around a used-car liquidator who organizes a fire sale at an automobile dealership.

Par says the film cost $10 million to produce.

On the specialty side, Sony Pictures Classics opens Davis Guggenheim’s rock ‘n’ roll docu “It Might Get Loud” in seven theaters in New York and L.A. Pic features the music of Jimmy Page, Jack White and the Edge and was conceived and produced by Legendary Films chairman Thomas Tull.

Anchor Bay opens Anne Heche/ Ashton Kutcher comedy “Spread” in 91 theaters in selected markets.

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