PREDICTED WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

1Rio
2Scream 4
3Hop
4Hanna
5Arthur
6Soul Surfer
7Source Code
8Insidious
9Your Highness
10Limitless

Will there ever be a weekend during which a completely non-animated movie takes the top spot at the box office? I don't know. But it doesn't look like it's going to be this weekend. The tropical bird-tastic Rio will be swooping into cineplexes, and will likely fly off with about $35-40 million. I think based on how marvelously Hop has managed to do over the past two weeks that folks are still hungry for their animated fantasias. Rio seems like it's much better than the bunny movie, so I think it will play really strong. Maybe even more than the $40 million. This comes from the creative team behind the Ice Age movies, so a built in fan base should be ready to turn out as well. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs grossed an astounding $886 million. So, the foreign box office will be interesting to track on this one as well. And that will probably be where the real story lies.

It should be a big weekend all around because the highly-anticipated (or so they say) Scream 4 will be taking a stab at crowds as well. The iconic horror film's two sequels each opened to an impressive $30 million but that was a long, long time ago. Are people still going to turn out for Neve Campbell? Did they ever? Some reviews are pretty positive, others are fairly dismissive. It's expected to make about $27 million this weekend, yet whether it has legs is harder to tell. The R rating won't help with getting the teenagers in, but I expect a fair amount of Scream fans do turn out - I know I'm planning to check in on it.

I've seen a couple of places predicting a much bigger opening for Scream 4 - some projecting that it will even be the winner for the weekend - with a gross of $40 million or more. That seems a bit much, but, hey, who knows? I hope it's a big hit - Courteney Cox deserves it!

Also looking intriguing is The Conspirator from Robert Redford. This Abe Lincoln yarn might do well, like the adult-skewing films Limitless and Source Code. This is a period piece, however, so all bets are off. The King's Speech has done exceedingly well, but I'm not sure if this has the same broad appeal. It's only in 706 theaters, so it's haul won't be anywhere near as big as the other two new releases.

Attention Objectivists! The most curious entry this weekend is Atlas Shrugged: Part 1. This oddball indie movie, starring just about no one you've ever heard of, is an unlikely movie adaptation of the classic Ayn Rand novel of a mid-century dystopia. There should be a built-in audience of hard core Rand fanatics, but I have a hard time imagining this doing particularly boffo box office. It's being released on 300 screens in about 80 markets. If you're the audience for this, enjoy the philosophical discourse!