A drop in fortunes of just under 50 percent from last week would still mean a take this weekend of $22 to $26 million, more than enough to beat the four newcomers ('Get Him to the Greek,' 'Killers,' 'Marmaduke,' and 'Splice'), as well as holdovers 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' and 'Sex and the City 2.' That would take the toon's three-week total to about $180 million, putting it in a class with only 'Iron Man 2' among the summer's biggest blockbusters so far. Call him the Little Ogre That Could. 'Shrek Forever After' may have opened with disappointing numbers compared to the first three 'Shrek'-taculars, but given the motley competition this week -- four varied new movies that will divide up the audience pie -- the latest 'Shrek' should have no trouble remaining the box office leader for the third straight week.
A drop in fortunes of just under 50 percent from last week would still mean a take this weekend of $22 to $26 million, more than enough to beat the four newcomers ('Get Him to the Greek,' 'Killers,' 'Marmaduke,' and 'Splice'), as well as holdovers 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' and 'Sex and the City 2.' That would take the toon's three-week total to about $180 million, putting it in a class with only 'Iron Man 2' among the summer's biggest blockbusters so far.
'Greek' will likely open in second place. The 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' spinoff, opening in the same slot that proved a surprise success for 'The Hangover' last year, seems to be aiming at the same young-adult male audience that likes raunchy comedy. Neither Jonah Hill nor Russell Brand is a big enough movie star to guarantee a big opening weekend, but neither was anyone in 'Hangover.' Opening on 2,696 screens, 'Greek' should gross between $17 and $20 million.
'Killers' ought to be a good date movie, with a blend of romantic comedy for the gals and spy-thriller action for the guys. Unfortunately, that's the same formula that failed earlier this year for 'The Bounty Hunter,' and this one has Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher instead of Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Plus, the fact that it wasn't screened for critics doesn't bode well. Debuting on 2,859 screens, 'Killers' should open in third place with between $14 and $18 million.
'Marmaduke' will be duking it out for fourth place with 'Persia' and 'Sex.' Owen Wilson + dogs was a formula for success for 'Marley & Me,' but this adaptation of the long-running comic strip hasn't been getting great buzz. Still, aside from 'Shrek,' 'Marmaduke' is the only other all-ages family movie out there, and it's this week's widest opener (3,213 screens). It should earn $13 to $15 million.
That's about the same range where 'Persia' and 'Sex' should land. The two movies, which opened neck-and-neck last week, are both expected to drop about 60 percent from last week due to poor word of mouth. They'll have another photo finish this weekend near the $14 million mark.
The fourth new movie this weekend, 'Splice,' looks like a cult sci-fi horror hit in the making. It doesn't have big stars or the widest opening (2,450 screens), but it does have strong reviews, good audience buzz from Sundance, top-quality actors (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley), a well-regarded genre director ('Cube's' Vincenzo Natali) and the fanboy stamp of approval in the form of a producer credit for Guillermo del Toro. It'll open at No. 7 with about $11 or $12 million toward a total of $30 to $35 million. Not too shabby for a low-budget indie horror flick.
Top 7 predictions:
1. 'Shrek Forever After,' $24.6 million
2. 'Get Him to the Greek,' $18.4 million
3. 'Killers,' $16.0 million
4. 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' $14.8 million
5. 'Marmaduke,' $14.6 million
6. 'Sex and the City 2,' $13.3 million
7. Splice,' $10.6 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.