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‘Toy 2,’ Arnold eye juicy turkey B.O.

Holiday take expected to squash 'Bug's' record

Anyone who complains that Hollywood doesn’t offer moviegoers much of a choice should check out marquees this weekend.

On 3,235 screens will be Disney’s “Toy Story 2.” On 2,592 will be its polar opposite, the R-rated, apocalyptic Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer “End of Days,” from Universal.

And those are just the debuts. Heading into their second weeks will be MGM’s James Bond pic “The World Is Not Enough” and Paramount’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

Both “Toy Story 2” and “End of Days” are tracking well enough to enjoy major frames, distrib execs say. Recent history favors Disney, as the Mouse House has claimed Thanksgiving wins every year since 1994.

Many observers believe that whichever film wins will shatter last year’s record five-day Thanksgiving record of $45.7 million, set by “A Bug’s Life.”

As a general rule, top-grossing pics released the Friday before Thanksgiving tend to rack up the same total in the second five-day span as they do in their first five days.

That would give Bond about $35 million for the long weekend, followed by “Sleepy Hollow” at $30 million.

The “Toy Story 2” toon’s closest rival for its target audience will be fellow animation pic “Pokemon: The First Movie.” The Warner Bros. whirlwind calmed last weekend, dropping 57% on the heels of a $50.8 million five-day start.

Disney distrib chief Chuck Viane has plenty of appetite for Turkey Day because “it’s the biggest family holiday at the box office. It’s the day when families go out as a unit.”

Plus, he added, a sequel to a $191.8 million-grossing pic shouldn’t be a tough sell. And ancillaries of the original have auds primed for a new installment.

B.O. watchers are more split about “End of Days.” It’s the first toplining role for Schwarzenegger since 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” as the action stalwart was sidelined with heart trouble.

Nikki Rocco, distrib head for U, said Arnold’s fans will be eagerly awaiting his return. She also took heart in last weekend’s chart, which made history with two releases grossing more than $30 million in the same frame. “Give them what they want and they’ll come,” Rocco said.

Also debuting today:

  • MGM’s “Flawless,” helmed by Joel Schumacher and starring Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman;

  • USA Films’ “Ride With the Devil,” lensed by Ang Lee and starring Tobey Maguire and pop singer Jewel;

  • and “Tumbleweeds,” a low-budgeter from Fine Line starring Janet McTeer.

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