Elektra, Stripes Lead B.O. Derby

Comic-book fans and parents with young kids should be shelling out the lion’s share of moviegoer moulah this weekend as the Daredevil spin-off Elektra and the talking animal comedy Racing Stripes burst out of the gates and onto screens. While mostly live-action, both films feature a generous helping of digital animation and other visual effects.

Elektra has Alias star Jennifer Garner reprising her role from 2003’s Daredevil. Having recovered from her near-death experience, the vengeful lady warrior detaches herself from society and focuses on becoming a fierce assassin. However, things don’t go so smoothly with her latest assignment and she ends up taking on deadly ninjas in an attempt to protect the very man she was sent to kill. Directed by X-Files alum Rob Bowman (Reign of Fire), the 20th Century Fox release features visual effects by Rhythm & Hues, Rainmaker, Pixel Magic, Pacific Title and Modern videoFilm.

On the lighter side, Warner Bros.’ Racing Stripes stars Malcolm in the Middle’s Franky Muniz as the voice of an abandoned zebra who has grown up thinking he is a racehorse. With the help of his barnyard pals, Stripes overcomes his physical differences and gets a shot at his dream of competing in a big race. A number of celebrities lend their voices to the animal characters. David Spade and Steve Harvey show turn up as a pair of CG-animated horseflies that shoulder good deal of the comic relief. The film was directed by animator-turned-helmer Frederik Du Chau (Quest for Camelot) and features visual effects by Hybride, Digital Dimension and Digiscope.

Fox is hoping an exclusive trailer for its upcoming comic-book adaptation, Fantastic Four, will help lure audiences to Elektra, while Warner Bros. is banking on fans of the Babe series to turn out for their chatty barnyard creature feature. Both films should do decent business and one of them might even end the phenomenal, four-week stay at the top of the charts enjoyed by Universal’s Meet the Fockers. The only other film opening wide today is Paramount’s inspirational non-fiction yarn, Coach Carter, starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Opening in limited release in North America today is Geneon Ent.’s anime feature, Appleseed. See our feature article on this site for more information.