‘Friday’ to cut into competition

Holiday convergence means big B.O.

The convergence of Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day is expected to equal big business at the domestic box office.

Not to mention that “Friday the 13th” actually opens on Friday the 13th.

Warner Bros./New Line’s horror reboot is expected to win the weekend. If tracking is any indication, “Friday the 13th” should prove another sizable score for New Line, which brought the film with it when it was absorbed into Warner Bros. last year.

Film was produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and goes out in 3,105 runs. The two other new openers are Disney’s chick pic “Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2,507 theaters) and Sony’s thriller “The International” (2,365).

“Confessions,” starring Isla Fisher, could find itself in a catfight with Warners/New Line holdover “He’s Just Not That Into You,” which is expected to remain a top player after bowing to a robust $27.8 million last weekend. Latter film has the advantage of a star-studded, ensemble cast.

To open two female-driven pics one week apart is a risky maneuver. Also, some box office observers suggest that “Confession’s” subject line — shopping — won’t resonate well in tough economic times. At the same time, Disney should see a solid gross by the time the long weekend is over.

According to tracking, “The International” is likely to struggle. Film should appeal to adult moviegoers, but it could lose older women to “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

“The International” will also have to compete with 20th Century Fox’s sleeper hit “Taken,” which has cumed north of $57 million in under two weeks.

Both younger moviegoers and older fans of the classic franchise are driving sales for “Friday the 13th.” As of Thursday, online ticket service Fandango reported that more than 50% of all tickets sales were for the horror remake.

Directed by Marcus Nispel, “Friday the 13th” will combine elements of the first four films.

Domestic big office should see a huge spike in traffic on Saturday as couples head to the multiplex. The last time that Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday was in 2004, when Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore romancer “50 First Dates” saw a 96% increase in business on Saturday. (Horror and romantic comedies are the two favorite genres for people going out on dates.)

Elsewhere, Oscar contenders enter the final stretch before the Academy Awards on Feb. 22. Fox Searchlight’s “Slumdog Millionaire” remains the box office favorite, with a cume north of $78 million.

Specialty openers include “Polanski Unauthorized,” which opens in one run in Los Angeles.

On the foreign front, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — another Oscar best pic contender — should lead with launches in Italy, South Korea and Taiwan.

The pricey epic, which moved into most major markets last weekend, has added $12 million in the three days since the weekend to push its foreign cume past $86 million for Warner Bros. Paramount’s domestic total of $120 million ofr “Button” could be matched on the international side this weekend.

“Friday the 13th,” handled by Par overseas, should scare up respectable offshore biz with 31 day-and-date launches, including France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain and the U.K. The other two domestic openers have a far more limited overseas profile as “Confessions of a Shopaholic” goes day-and-date in Mexico, Poland and Russia and “The International’ launches in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Awards season favorite “Slumdog Millionaire,” with foreign grosses at about $50 million, moves into Russia and Spain this weekend. “Doubt,” which has been in limited release, opens in France.

Disney’s “Bolt” will be a player with expansions into Benelux and the U.K., where previews have already scored around $3 million. The toon’s foreign cume has topped $111 million.

“Valkyrie” launches its last round of openings, including Brazil and Mexico, with about $60 million banked so far from three weeks in major markets. Fox’s “Australia,” with $142 million overseas so far, debuts in Russia; “He’s Just Not That Into You” opens in Australia, France and Germany; and “The Pink Panther 2” opens in Scandinavia and the U.K.

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