Movies amass as season wanes

A slew of wide releases enter the domestic B.O. this weekend, hoping to benefit from the last few weeks of summer playtime.

Among those launching today, Universal’s family-friendly sequel “Nanny McPhee Returns” leads the pack at 2,782 locations, followed by scarer “Piranha 3D,” which Dimension will debut at 2,470 engagements, of which 2,202 will be 3D equipped. Warner Bros.’ Bow Wow starrer “Lottery Ticket” and Disney/Miramax’s “The Switch,” toplining Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, also enter the mix in wide release.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox’s parody offering “Vampires Suck” kicked off midweek with hopes of beating the crowded B.O. heat. Pic will expand this weekend to 3,233 locations.

Younger moviegoers in particular may opt for frame’s fresher fare, but last weekend’s top titles “The Expendables” and “Eat Pray Love” should continue to play well with adult auds. “Expendables,” which opened with a sizable $34.8 million, could win the weekend even with an expected drop near 50%, while “Eat Pray Love” could lose younger femmes to similarly targeted “The Switch.”

Holdover titles should continue to dominate overseas, with few major day-and-date releases entering the international market. “Piranha” will go in the U.K. through local distrib Entertainment Film, while Fox plans to launch “Vampires Suck” in mostly smaller Asian territories.

U’s “Nanny McPhee” sequel, with star-scribe Emmy Thompson reprising her title role, has been playing overseas since April, with foreign totals north of $62 million. The U.K. stands as pic’s top-grossing territory; thanks to star-scribe and Brit native Emma Thompson, it accounts for 40% ($25 million) of the international cume.

With many Stateside students already back in school, studios hope to massage sizable coin from the remaining summer B.O.

Targeting mostly family auds, “Nanny McPhee” stands to benefit most from tykes still on vacation. And while U expects the pic to launch near the first “Nanny” outing ($14.5 million), the sequel, with its late-summer rollout, should fare better over the long haul than did the original, which was released on Jan. 27, 2006. That film went on to earn $47.3 million domestically, with worldwide totals reaching $128 million.

Dimension’s “Piranha” will benefit from higher 3D ticket prices, but auds under 25 could be limited given the R rating. Directed by Alexandre Aja, “Piranha” marks the franchise’s third bigscreen installment, following previous offerings in 1978 and 1981. Thesps Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell and Adam Scott topline as latest prey of the fanged fish.

Warner expects “Lottery Ticket,” which is tracking best with African-American auds, to debut near the low- to mid-teens, launching at 1,973 locations.

“Lottery,” which tells the story of a young man in the projects (Bow Wow) who wins the lottery, is produced and financed by Alcon Entertainment. Pic co-stars Brandon T. Jackson (“Percy Jackson and the Olympians”) and Ice Cube, who also served as exec producer through his shingle Cube Vision.

Meanwhile, Disney/Miramax’s “The Switch,” about a woman who decides to have a baby using a sperm donor, also opens today at less than 2,000 locations.

Based on the short story “Baster,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides, “Switch” is the latest offering in a recent helping of preggers-themed pics. Earlier this year, CBS Films launched Jennifer Lopez starrer “The Back-Up Plan,” which opened to $12.2 million, while U’s “Baby Mama,” toplining Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, debuted with $17.4 million in 2008.

Pic scored free publicity from the recent spat between Aniston and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly about the pic’s artificial insemination theme.

Among the frame’s notable holdovers, U’s fanboy pic “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” could lose younger male auds to “Piranha” and “Vampires.”

“Scott Pilgrim” opened last weekend with a less-than-stellar $10.6 million and has been earning middling midweek results. Cume as of Wednesday reached $14.7 million. Top perfs during the midweek for fellow soph sesh titles “Expendables” and “Eat Pray Love” could translate well through the weekend.

Two docs launch in limited release, “The Tillman Story,” from the Weinstein Co., and “A Film Unfinished,” from Oscilloscope, both at four Stateside locations.

Recently, the docus were the source of separate appeals to the Motion Picture Assn. of America, with both distribs disputing the R ratings. In both cases, the initial rating was upheld.

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