Can Angels ‘Throttle’ B.O. foes?

Chicks must kick it quick as 'T3' stalks

The subtitle says it all — “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” But does hitting the B.O. at full throttle mean setting yourself up for a precipitous fade?

That’s the question as Sony’s star-laden sequel enters the marketplace today at peak volume, following a tsunami of publicity and an ear-splitting flurry of TV ads and trailers. It will have the field to itself, being the lone new release over the next five days.

Female-driven movies, Sony vice chairman Jeff Blake emphasized Thursday, tend to open solidly if not spectacularly before displaying better-than-average legs. Then again, most action movies in late June with just a narrow channel of exclusive play time fall off rather sharply.

“We’d be disappointed if we didn’t get to where the original was,” Blake said, alluding to the $40.1 million collected in November 2001. “We’re the event movie this weekend, and that’s usually a pretty good start.”

Universal’s “The Hulk” is the main holdover rival but has already seen subdued midweek grosses in the $4 million-$6 million range after its $62 million bow.

A drop of 50% this weekend would be par for the 2003 course. Thus far this summer, the average second-week drop has been 47%, wider than the 41% recorded in 2002. “Hulk” will have about $82 million in the till entering the weekend.

Men lack yen

Tracking reports for “Charlie’s” have not been full throttle across all demos; women and teen girls remain the strongest core. But research sages note the reluctance of males to willingly claim they will buy tickets to a chick-kicking actioner. So middling numbers among men could well be misleading.

A “Charlie’s” bow in the neighborhood of $50 million has been widely forecast by B.O. watchers. At 3,459 playdates, it is a tad less wide than its summer predecessors, but beyond 3,000 runs, most screens are not exactly heavy grossers.

Among the questions about “Charlie’s” is whether it can perform in the heat of summer, having moved from the original’s November roost. But “Rush Hour 2,” among others, has managed to make such a transition.

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The McG-helmed pic will need to grab as much cash as it can carry in its first frame, as it will be followed just five days later by “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.”

The bows of that potent pair, not to mention DreamWorks’ “Sinbad,” are clustered on a Wednesday because the Fourth of July holiday falls on a Friday for the first time in 12 years. (In 1991, “Terminator 2” blitzed all comers with a $52.3 million five-day launch.)

Business tends to be tepid on the Fourth due to fireworks and picnics — especially this year, given the post-war boom in patriotic display.

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