Cage, Witherspoon feature in box-office battle

Three new movies compete for filmgoers over the long President’s Day weekend in the United States. Nicolas Cage is expected to lead the pack of newcomers with Sony’s 3D action sequel “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

Box-office watchers project Friday-through-Monday sales in the United States and Canada could roar to $30 million for the follow-up to the original “Ghost Rider,” released over the same weekend in 2007.

Reese Witherspoon also battles for audiences with 20th Century Fox romantic comedy “This Means War.” Fox sees the story about two CIA agents (Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) trying to win over the same woman bringing in around $14 million over four days. Outside forecasters say it could go a few million higher. The movie pulled in about $1.7 million from Valentine’s Day showings.

The weekend’s other new film is Disney’s animated “The Secret World of Arrietty”, about a tiny family that lives under the floorboards of a country home. “Arrietty” is expected to debut with less than $10 million over four days, box-office forecasters said.

Holdovers from last weekend will also fight for top spots. They include love story “The Vow,” Denzel Washington action movie “Safe House” and family film “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”

More vampires and werewolves at your local cineplex

Impatient Twilight fans rejoice: vampires and werewolves are staging another movie-theater invasion.

This time, it’s the fourth movie in the “Underworld” series starring Kate Beckinsale, which distributor Sony projects will ring up U.S. and Canadian ticket sales in the low-$20 million range from Friday through Sunday. The newest installment, “Underworld: Awakening”, sees humans trying to drive vampires and werewolves to extinction.

“Red Tails,” a George Lucas-produced story about Tuskegee Airmen starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., also reaches theaters. Twentieth Century Fox is releasing the movie and hoping for opening-weekend sales of in the $8 million to $10 million range.

Bollywood to plagiarism: Bye bye?

Filmmakers in Bollywood, India’s movie industry, are notorious for borrowing liberally from foreign films far and wide, especially Hollywood.

Even when they don’t copy an entire film frame by frame, Bollywood directors often borrow from several films at once, melding story lines and adapting them to an Indian setting, complete with song and dance. They do this, of course, without buying the remaking rights. Despite a lot of original cinema coming out of Bollywood, plagiarism is rife.

Hollywood hasn’t cared until now, The Washington Post’s Emily Wax reports. Twentieth Century Fox recently settled a lawsuit with BR Films — a well-known banner — over its remake of the 1992 hit “My Cousin Vinny.” Fox accepted $200,000, paving the way for a release of the Hindi version, called “Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai” or “This Guy is Fearless”.