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B.O. does battle with Oscar

'16 Blocks,' 'Madea' hot

On Oscar weekend, the studios are going after men and teens…the two groups least likely to be staying in on Sunday.

The most testosterone-charged pic of them all, WB actioner “16 Blocks,” is expected to come out on top, but Focus’ Dave Chappelle concert pic “Block Party” is tracking extremely well with young auds and looks likely to impress on relatively few screens.

Frame’s other openers are Sony Screen Gems’ “Ultraviolet,” which unlike other recent action/horror pics from the label probably won’t come out on top, and Fox’s “Aquamarine,” which should do modest biz among young femmes.

“Madea’s Family Reunion” should also be in the mix, as a similar falloff to “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” from its impressive opening weekend would put it in the mid teens.

Since the Oscars moved to Sundays in 1999, it has been a relatively weak frame for exhibs. Biggest exception was 2004 blockbuster “Passion of the Christ,” which grossed $83.8 million. In 2002, “Blade 2” did a very healthy $32.5 million.

This year, studios are more realistically gunning for the third place record set by “Diary,” which opened on last year’s Oscar weekend to $21.9 million.

“16 Blocks” gets the widest bow, hitting 2,706 playdates. Bruce Willis and Mos Def buddy actioner is tracking primarily with male auds and a little stronger amongst older men. A bow in the high teens or low 20s looks very doable.

It’s certain to perform better than last year’s early March Willis starrer, “Hostage,” which bowed to only $10. 2 million.

“Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” will be something of a release valve for the millions of fans who have been waiting for the comedian’s return since the third season of “Chappelle’s Show” didn’t air last year.

Focus is bowing the concert pic, which features the standup and numerous musical acts, at 1,200 locations. With strong interest among young moviegoers, “Block Party” is likely to get a big per-play average that should put it in the mid-teens.

“Ultraviolet,” which hits 2,558 theaters, doesn’t have the kind of hard core gore that has driven other Sony Screen Gems horror/action pics to No. 1 bows. Studio is instead looking for something much more modest in the low teens.

It could be competitive in that area with Disney’s “Eight Below.” If the family pic has another small dropoff, it could end up in the low teens for its third weekend.

Frame’s weakest opener looks likely to be “Aquarmarine,” which opens with 2,511 plays. Fox’s mermaid pic has modest appeal amongst teen and tween girls that should put it in the high single digits. Last Fox pic aimed at girls, January’s “Tristan and Isolde,” bowed to $6.5 million.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics debuts French foreign language pic Oscar nominee “Joyeux Noel” at six playdates in New York and L.A. Pic just had its rating overturned on appeal from R to PG-13.

BVI will open “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in Japan this weekend, marking the final major market launch for the family fave. Foreign grosses are near $380 million, pushing the worldwide total to $668 million. 

“Capote,” which performed respectably in smallish openings in the U.K. and Spain last weekend, moves into Germany and Mexico.

Oscar contenders have generated only respectable overseas interest. Of the best picture nominees, “Munich” has the best numbers and should cross $75 million this weekend while “Brokeback Mountain” will probably end the frame with around $55 million.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)