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Movie Projector: 'The Roommate' and 'Sanctum' won't score on Super Bowl weekend

February 3, 2011 |  1:15 pm

Leighton Super Bowl weekend is never a big hit at the box office, but it's likely to be particularly low-scoring this year.

Two new movies, the thriller "The Roommate" and the James Cameron-produced 3-D underwater adventure "Sanctum," are expected to have weak openings this weekend.

"The Roommate," which stars "Gossip Girl" actress Leighton Meester, is likely to be No. 1, but unlikely to have an impressive debut. According to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys, the college-set horror film should open to between $12 million and $15 million, fueled mostly by young women.

"Sanctum," meanwhile, is appealing mostly to men, and should have an even worse opening of less than $10 million.

Both movies will have to do the majority of their business Friday and Saturday, as most Americans will be more interested in the Packers, Steelers and pricey commercials on Super Bowl Sunday.

"The Roommate" was produced by Sony Pictures' low-budget genre label Screen Gems at a cost of $16 million. Still, its projected opening is on the low end of a typical launch for the film unit. A year ago, Screen Gems' thriller "Legion" debuted to $17.5 million.

The main selling point for "Sanctum," which features an unknown Australian cast, has been Cameron. Though he only produced the movie, the "Avatar" director has done interviews and even recently started a Twitter account to promote the film.

Sanctum Distributor Universal Pictures and its partner Relativity Media paid $12 million for rights to distribute the movie domestically and in several foreign countries. Given the film's underwhelming prospects in the U.S. and Canada, its backers are undoubtedly hoping it will perform better in Great Britain and Australia, where it also opens this weekend.

The recent Oscar nominations might also have an effect on ticket sales. Last weekend, several contenders including "The King's Speech" and "True Grit" received a significant boost from their multiple Academy Awards nods. Interest in Hollywood's most watched awards race -- only three weeks away -- could again bolster the box-office receipts of several nominated films.

Natalie Portman already has two movies in release, Oscar-nominated "Black Swan" and the romantic comedy "No Strings Attached," and fans will have yet another opportunity to see her this weekend. "The Other Woman," a poorly reviewed drama that has been on video-on-demand since Jan. 1, opens in limited release.

-- Ben Fritz and Amy Kaufman

Top photo: Leighton Meester in "The Roommate." Credit: Jaimie Trueblood / Sony Screen Gems. Bottom photo: Rhys Wakefield, left, and Richard Roxburgh in "Sanctum." Credit: Jasin Boland / Universal Pictures.

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