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Movie projector: 'Legion,' 'Tooth Fairy,' 'Extraordinary Measures' won't touch 'Avatar'

January 21, 2010 |  3:47 pm

ExtraMeasures With "Avatar" set to rule the box office for the sixth  consecutive weekend, the bigger news will be how the first release from Hollywood newcomer CBS Films, "Extraordinary Measures,"  fares in its debut run. And its prospects appear dim as it opens against other new entries "Legion," an apocalyptic action movie from Sony Pictures, and family comedy "Tooth Fairy" from 20th Century Fox and Walden Media.

According to people who have seen pre-release audience polling, CBS' inspirational drama "Extraordinary Measures," which stars Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, will sell between $5 million and $7 million worth of tickets from Friday through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada.

That's a very soft start even given the adult drama's modest production budget of $31 million. CBS Films, the start-up movie division of CBS Corp., has marketed "Extraordinary Measures" aggressively on television and on billboards. It's aiming to fill a niche in the market for mid-budget pictures and use them to provide additional content for its Showtime pay cable channel. (For more on CBS Films' strategy, see this story.)

Most interested moviegoers appear to be women over 30, according to surveys -- a demographic that is often tough to get out on opening weekend but does attend films in later weeks if word of mouth is good.

Healthier but far from sensational launches appear to be in the making for "Legion," starring Paul Bettany, and "Tooth Fairy," starring Dwayne Johnson.

The effects-heavy "Legion" is expected to open to about $20 million, a solid start for a film from Sony's low-budget genre label Screen Gems. 

Toothfairy "Tooth Fairy," which was co-financed by Fox and family entertainment company Walden Media, has somewhat less certain prospects. The kids' comedy, which cost $48 million to produce, should open to about $15 million, a so-so start given its budget. That's less than the last two family movies starring Johnson, "Race to Witch Mountain" and "The Game Plan," which opened to $24.4 million and $23 million, respectively.

After six spectacular weeks, there's no reason to doubt that "Avatar" will continue its patten of modest drops of about 20%. That means it should sell a little more than $30 million worth of tickets this weekend, bringing its total domestic take to $520 million.

Overseas, "Avatar" has collected $1.18 billion as of Wednesday and should surpass the all-time record of $1.24 billion -- not accounting for ticket price inflation and exchange rates -- set 12 years ago by "Titanic," which was also directed by James Cameron. The movie will take a slightly larger than expected dip abroad this weekend, however, having unexpectedly lost all its 2-D screens in China.

Paramount Pictures will also be closely watching the second weekend performance of "The Lovely Bones" after its solid start last weekend. To make a success out of its big-screen adaptation of the bestselling book -- which cost $63 million to produce -- the studio is counting on good buzz among its target audience of young women to drive a relatively modest second-weekend drop.

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser in "Extraordinary Measures." Credit: CBS Films

Bottom photo: Dwayne Johnson in "Tooth Fairy." Credit: Diyah Pera / 20th Century Fox