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Movie Projector: 'Devil Inside' challenges 'Mission: Impossible'

DevilInside
Low-budget horror movie "The Devil Inside" will try to do what Sherlock Holmes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and a girl with a dragon tattoo couldn't: Knock Tom Cruise out of the top box-office spot.

"The Devil Inside," about a woman investigating her mother's exorcisms, will likely open this weekend to between $12 million and $15 million, people who have seen pre-release audience surveys said. That should put it very close to Cruise's "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," which after two weekends in the No. 1 spot is expected to drop to about $15 million.

The "Mission" hit sequel, which has rejuvenated Cruise's sagging star status, has so far grossed $145 million in the U.S. and Canada, and another $254 million overseas.

Paramount Pictures, which is releasing both movies, is essentially competing against itself for the weekend box-office crown.

The likely results for "The Devil Inside" — the weekend's only new release to open nationwide — should please the Viacom Inc.-owned studio, which spent under $1 million to acquire the movie. It is the second film from the studio's low-budget and youth-oriented Insurge label, whose debut offering was last year's hit documentary "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never."

Moviegoers under 25 make up most of the audience interested in the R-rated "Devil Inside."

The first weekend of January is typically a slow one at the box office, but important for establishing which of the large number of movies released around Christmas have strong enough word of mouth to keep playing through the winter.

Among the pictures that did decent business over the holidays and will be looking for a modest drop this weekend are "War Horse," "We Bought a Zoo" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

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— Ben Fritz

Photo: Fernanda Andrade in "The Devil Inside." Credit: Paramount Insurge.

 
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