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Beware ‘Scary 3’ B.O.

Third installment expected to finish first

HOLLYWOOD — It’s no joke — “Scary Movie 3” appears poised for breakout box office during the upcoming frame.

Dimension’s spoof fest, directed by David Zucker of “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” fame, comes into the marketplace in a near-saturation level of 3,505 engagements with expectations that it can open somewhere between the $42.3 million July 2000 debut of the original and the $20.5 million opening of “Scary Movie 2” a year later. Both showed solid legs with the first “Scary” cuming $157 million and the sequel topping $71 million.

Though Dimension offered no forecast, other tracking showed that a performance topping $30 million may be achievable with the possibility of eclipsing the October opening record of $36.5 million set last year by “Red Dragon.”

Broad-humored trailers for “Scary Movie 3” have been airing extensively in recent weeks and the pic’s PG-13 rating may help ensure solid performance among the teen demo.

Another positive portent comes from the impressive coin generated during late summer and early fall by “American Wedding,” also a third version of a teen-oriented comedy series. “Wedding” opened with $33.4 million and has cumed more than $104 million domestically.

The same frame of 2002 saw a surprisingly strong perf from Par’s “Jackass: The Movie” with $22.7 million as it led the way during a relatively moderate weekend that totaled $107 million.

Prospects are considerably less heated for a pair of dramas — Sony’s “Radio,” toplining Cuba Gooding Jr., and Par’s “Beyond Borders” with Angelina Jolie.

“Radio,” due for 3,074 playdates, is looking to leverage the positive buzz built up from 800 sneaks last weekend to broaden the appeal of its inspirational tale of a mentally challenged football fan. PG rating and sports theme should help generate coin in Middle American locales.

“We’ve got a great crowdpleaser that should do well everywhere and then play and play for a long time,” opined Sony distrib topper Jeff Blake.

“Beyond Borders,” a romantic drama set among the world of relief workers, opens at a moderate 1,798 locations amid hopes that the love story will attract femme customers. Jolie’s previous pic, “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” generated lukewarm biz with a $21.8 million opening on its way to a $65.3 million cume.

Last weekend’s winner, New Line’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” is doubtless due to remain a powerful player after its impressive $28.1 million opening along with the soph sesh for Fox/Regency’s “Runaway Jury” and Miramax’s third frame for “Kill Bill, Vol. 1.”

Older males may be a bit problematical to attract with a sixth game of the Yankees-Marlins World Series on tap for Saturday though Nielsen EDI Exec VP Andrew Hindes said he did not expect much of a negative effect. “Aside from the Super Bowl, sporting events tend to have a surprisingly small impact on moviegoing,” he noted.

The specialty market will continue heating up with awards season hopefuls debut with Sony/Screen Gems’s “In the Cut,” Par Classics’ “The Singing Detective” and Fine Line’s “Elephant.”

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