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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE ADVANCE: 'Shrek' Bids to Reclaim No. 1 With Widest Theater Expansion in History; Aliens May Push Duchovny's Comedy 'Evolution' Over the Top

8 Jun, 2001 By: Ed Ochs

Now it is Pearl Harbor that's under attack, as high-tech thriller Swordfish duels sci-fi comedy Evolution to seize the top spot from the two-time No. 1 WWII blockbuster. And that's not the only competition for No. 1 -- nor perhaps the fiercest. Shrek will play its peak number of theaters this weekend, and may well reclaim the summit with the strongest legs in the marketplace. The heated competition will boil the box office this weekend and spread the dollars around, which is good news for both moviegoers and moviemakers.

The DreamWorks/Sony PG-13 space spoof Evolution, starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Julianne Moore, turns Duchovny's "X-Files" image upside down and inside it, poking fun at everything Fox Mulder once held dear. Once you find out this effects-driven alien jokebook is directed by Ivan Reitman of Ghostbusters fame, any further comparison to Men in Black would simply be overkill. The Animal and, to a lesser extent, What's the Worst That Could Happen? could chip away at a bigger total, but it's always great to be the new comedy in town, and Duchovny's gone-around-the bend alien-hunter may be just goofy enough to launch highly-advertised Evolution in orbit around No. 1.

Warner Bros.' R-rated, action-charged Swordfish, starring John Travolta and Halle Berry, and directed by Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds), is being promoted as "The French Connection meets The Matrix," rather than as John Travolta's new movie -- and no wonder. After last year's back-to-back career killers Battlefield Earth and Lucky Numbers, Travolta left the impression he'd make any movie for anyone who'd pay him. But Travolta as master criminal in a techno-thriller could be the right role, and selling it like a chip off The Matrix could be the right pitch, to bring back Travolta for his sixth career incarnation in the hacker-heist cyberflick Swordfish. Then again, maybe Halle's topless scene, which earned the film its R-rating, hints at the dirt hiding under this film's fingernails.

Disney’s PG-rated animated fantasy Atlantis: The Lost Empire, featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox, plays at a theater in New York and one in LA as a buzz-builder prior to next Friday’s nationwide opening.

But look out for Shrek. DreamWorks' audience-grabbing, computer-animated blockbuster expands to more screens –- 3,715 theaters –- than any movie in box office history. Already the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film ever, Shrek will exit the weekend's journey with close to $180 million in the box office bank.

Now, stir in Pearl Harbor, The Animal, Moulin Rouge and What’s the Worst That Could? -- and June's box office is busting out all over.

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