This week's new flicks are targeting the wee ones and pre-adults as Horton Hears A Who (reviews) with an all star cast of vocal talent, led by Jim Carrey; Sean Faris learns to be an Ultimate Fighting martial arts chanp from Djimon Hounsou in Never Back Down (reviews); And Neil Marshall shows us what Doomsday (reviews) might look like..
Dave McNary and Pamela McClintock of Variety
Twentieth Century Fox's animated family pic "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who" should make plenty of noise at the weekend box office as the first wave of schools let out for the Easter break.
Toplining the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, "Horton" should have no trouble coming in No. 1. The big question is just how big it will open. Fox is looking to take full advantage of market conditions by unspooling the film in 3,954 theaters.
The weekend's other two new wide entries will largely vie for teens and younger adults.
Summit Entertainment's mixed martial arts action-drama "Never Back Down" opens in 2,729, while Universal and Rogue Pictures' sci-fi horror pic "Doomsday" opens in 1,936.
"Never Back Down" is a key test for Summit. Movie, starring Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou and Amber Heard, is the first inhouse production released by Summit's upstart distribution division. Tracking is strong among young men.
The R-rated "Doomsday" was written and directed by British horror filmmaker Neil Marshall ("The Descent") and stars Rhona Mitra and Bob Hoskins. Story revolves around an elite team sent into Scotland, which has been walled off because of a deadly virus, for which the team is trying to find a cure.
Opening-weekend gross for genre pics "Doomsday" and "Never Back Down" isn't expected to come anywhere close to that of "Horton."
Fox has a strong track record in using the Easter frame for family toons. Studio opened both "Ice Age" and sequel "Ice Age: The Meltdown" in March to record-breaking numbers. First film grossed $46.3 million in its opening weekend, while the sequel bowed to $68 million.
"Horton," like both "Ice Age" movies, was produced by animation house Blue Sky Studios.
Fox has virtually no competition in terms of family fare over the staggered Easter holiday, which distributors say essentially runs three weeks, since various schools break on different dates. Easter falls on March 23 this year.
In fact, the next family film won't open until April 4, when Fox Walden releases the PG-rated "Nim's Island."
"Horton," rated G and the first tentpole toon of 2008, is the second pic based on a Dr. Seuss book in which Carrey has starred after Universal's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." That film took in more than $260 million domestically.
Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino directed "Horton" from an adapted screenplay by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul...
Joshua Rich of EW:
Boasting famous voices, the ''Ice Age'' creative team, and the Dr. Seuss pedigree, this kiddie flick can't go wrong..
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The reviews for "Horton" are positive while the other 2 wides barely register-Although at least the fighting stunts of Never look really cool.
Next Week: Owen Wilson returns in the comedy Drillbit Taylor, Tyler Perry wants you to Meet The Browns, while Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor fear the Shutter...