Next weekend brings us The Apparition - a ghost story movie – and Premium Rush, which was supposed to come out in January. That’s a roundabout way of saying that this is the last week of summer for big movies, and if it’s going to go out, it’s going out with a bang.

The Expendables proved to be a strong player when it opened in 2009, crushing all other releases that week (including Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), and made over $100 Million  domestic and nearly $300 Million worldwide. The question is if people will only turn out to see that sort of assemblage once or repeatedly. The second film is miles better in terms of delivering entertainment, the ensemble works better, and Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger actually have stuff to do in this one, but you never know if the last one burned some bridges. I think after the last couple action films audiences are ready for something bordering on brain-dead, but also that delivers. It should win the weekend.

If we’re going to be honest, Sparkle, which stars Whitney Houston, would have had more of a grip on the public if it were ready closer to her death. This isn’t a Heath Ledger situation. Should do decent numbers, could be the spoiler of the weekend. But I would go high teens right now.

Paranorman seems to have had a problem developing heat. With Ice Age 4 on the way down, it’s out at the right time for it to be the Kid alternative, but I don’t know if it got a grip on the public. Stop motion animation requires a lot of time and patience but isn’t as expensive as most CG animated films so it doesn’t have to make a hundred million, and Lakia had success with Coraline, but I don’t know if the marketing connected with audiences. That said, it’s the first of at least three spooky animated films in the next two months (along with Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie), so maybe being in first position is best. Kids movies can surprise, perhaps this will.

And then there’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green, which is already in theaters. Heartwarming Disney stuff. Eh. Eh. Seems weak. Something made for an audience that doesn’t go to movies.

There’s a lot of wiggle room this week, but let’s get down to it:

  1. The Expendables 2 - $36.5 Million
  2. Sparkle – $19.5 Million
  3. The Bourne Legacy – $15.5 Million
  4. Paranorman – $15 Million
  5. The Campaign - $14 Million

The thing that gives me most pause is how earlier this year Think Like a Man opened to $33 Million, so Sparkle definitely could win the weekend – tracking may not represent black audiences as thoroughly as it does a general population, which is how Think surprised. And Paranorman and Timothy Green have the child-based X factors. It’s one of those weeks I expect to be wrong.

What are you watching this weekend?