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Super competition

'Boogeyman,' 'Date' seeking football upset

For movie studios, the Super Bowl is a problem. With so many people distracted by the big game on the small screen, grosses for Sunday are usually cut almost in half.

Sony and Universal present two ways to get around football this weekend. For Sony’s horror pic “Boogeyman,” which bows at 3,052 theaters, the strategy is to go out with a film that normally does the bulk of its biz on Friday and Saturday nights. U has Gold Circle’s “The Wedding Date” unspooling at 1,695 venues; plan is to try to draw the aud that’s most pigskin averse — adult femmes.

“Boogeyman,” produced by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, hopes to continue the hot streak for fright titles. Film has a good chance of winning the weekend, with tracking showing strong interest from young males and females. Like other recent successful scarers, pic is rated PG-13.

“Certainly this Sunday won’t perform like a normal Sunday,” said Sony distrib prexy Rory Bruer, “but with this type of picture, you have a big Friday and Saturday crowd, so I think we’ll do very well for the weekend as a whole.”

Like “White Noise,” “Wedding Date” is going out through the distrib pact Gold Circle has with U, which is handling the 1,500 U.S. bookings. Equinox is handling Canada.

“Date” is expected to post a more modest opening that should primarily be driven by women over 25, according to tracking.

“Not everybody is watching the Super Bowl,” noted U distrib chief Nikki Rocco.

Among the Oscar contenders, most distribs are holding steady this weekend after a bout of aggressive expansions last week.

Notable exception is MGM and United Artists, which will nearly double the screens for “Hotel Rwanda,” bringing its run to 823. Move gives the film a nearly nationwide release, with 183 markets.

MGM distrib head Erik Lomis said the Super Bowl would hurt the genocide drama, but added, “We’ll be affected to a lesser degree because we’re playing to a much more upscale audience.”

Arty expansion

Fine Line is expanding its two kudos contenders still in theaters: “Vera Drake” will get a 29-screen bump for a total of 97, and “The Sea Inside” is padding its run to 48 engagements, an increase of 34.

Weekend also reps a rebound in the number of new limited releases. Among the newcomers, MGM is releasing “Swimming Upstream” on 17 screens. Pic was financed and produced by Phil Anschutz’s Crusader banner.

In Gotham and L.A., Focus Features will introduce “Rory O’Shea Was Here” on three screens, while Palm bows “The Nomi Song” on two.

Starting their runs solely in Gotham, IFC’s “Nobody Knows” is playing Lincoln Plaza and Sunshine, while Newmarket’s “Daybreak” started a two-week run at the Film Forum on Wednesday.

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