10000bc_galleryposter.jpgUPDATE: First word coming to me is that today’s matinees were “good but not great” for 10,000 BC. My box office gurus are lowering their projections for weekend box office to low $30sM…

THIS WEEKEND: My box office gurus are expecting Warner Bros’ CGI-loaded 10,000 BC from extravagant director Roland Emmerich to make between $35M and $40M this weekend largely thanks to a terrific marketing campaign. “And I think $40+M is entirely possible,” one of the insiders tells me. Explains another: “The movie is no good at all. But there hasn’t been much in the marketplace for the last few weeks, and exhibition is desperate to keep it on screens.” Even though the trailers for 10,000 BC look and feel those for 300, the two movies’ budgets couldn’t be more different. The toga pic was made for a song, while the caveman pic spent north of $150 mil (not including P&A, of course). Also their ratings: it was very savvy of Warner’s to make sure 10,000 BC was PG-13 and not an R like 300. But it’s also questionable how 10,000 BC will do after this weekend’s audience gets to the water coolers on Monday. Because I can’t recall reviews this rotten for a big studio-pushed pic in months. The bad buzz on the pic’s content actually started with the exhibitor screenings, I’m told. collegeroadtrip_galleryposter.jpgBut even rival studios are rooting for the Warner movie hoping it can jumpstart box office biz again. It has a 300 feel to it, but also a Jurassic Park and King Kong component. It was a great world for Roland to take people to when wooly mammoths and sabretooth tigers walked the earth,” an exec at a competing major told me. “Plus Warner’s gave it that super-event CGI spectacle status by showing off in trailers and TV spots that visual imagery which Roland has been so successful with.” Another plus for the pic is that it’s playing at a big number of venues for its opening weekend: 3,410.

College Road Trip is worth acknowledging this weekend because, even if its content is a snore, not even rival studios will bet against a Disney G-rated family pic with a running time of only 1 hour, 23 minutes. Expect a $14M-$15M Friday-to-Sunday opener. “They’ve done an absolutely terrific job over the last couple of years of really sticking to these G-rated family films with the Disney brand on it. There haven’t been too many misfires.” thebankjob_galleryposter.jpgPlus, Raven Symone is not just a tween icon thanks to the Disney Channel but also a successful consumer brand all by herself. But Martin Lawrence in a Disney flick? No matter, it’s a wide release of 2,706 plays.

And there’s debate among my box office gurus whether it made any sense for Lionsgate to schedule The Bank Job for this weekend because of all the guys who will be out in force at the cineplex thanks to 10,000 BC. “How does Bank Job compete with 10,000 BC?” one asked me. Countered another: “Hypothetically, it’s possible for all three movies to peacefully coexist at the box office this weekend.” But even though the pic’s stick-up name implies kick-ass car chases and kickboxing, reliable tough guy Jason Statham shows a softer side. He’s a husband and father, so hardcore action audiences may see too much unnecessary character development on screen. On the other hand, this could be the thinking man’s date movie. It’s released tenderly in only 1,603 screens.

hortonhearsawho_galleryposter.jpgTRACKING: Nobody right now markets movies as smartly as Fox (even the bad ones) so give that studio Dr. Seuss and big-name voice talent, and it’s a given that Horton Hears A Who looks to be huge on March 14th. My box office gurus are already predicting at least a $50+M giant opening because all the elements are there, especially with that popular Ice Age style and a running time of only 1 hour, 28 minutes. Expectedly, Fox has opted for a big and bold campaign, especially outdoors. The only minus at this point is that I’m told the toon is trending very young audience-wise. Is it too young?

Also looking at March 14th, Doomsday‘s tracking “has a lot of encouraging signs — even if  success and failure in this genre look identical a week out,” one insider tells me. “Universal won’t know until a day ahead.” This is the first Rogue Pictures product to be handled by Universal after years in the smaller Focus fold.