Maybe the question should be: Does the new guy stand a chance against the old guy?
And it looks like Lautner's movie is the one that's going to get schooled.
The $50 million-ish Moneyball, an inside take on the business of baseball, is expected to debut at or near No. 1, with a Friday-Sunday take of about $18 million.
The $40 million Abduction, meanwhile, is being pegged to gross as much $13 million, a respectable number. Advance-ticket sales for the action flick, Lautner's first starring vehicle since rising to fame in the Twilight franchise, however, have not been strong.
In what would be an ironic twist for the former Sharkboy, Lautner could see his film open in the standings below the aquatic family drama, Dolphin Tale.
Beyond the box office, Pitt's movie holds an even greater lead over Lautner's. Moneyball's seen as a potential Oscar contender; Abduction's Rotten Tomatoes score was zero, as in zero, through much of Thursday.
But BoxOffice.com editor Phil Contrino cautions not to write off Lautner as a Twilight-only draw.
"It's important not to judge him on one movie," Contrino says. "…He has built up so much of a fan base he can sustain a couple of misses."
As things stand now, though, if the question is, the 47-year-old Pitt or the 19-year-old Lautner, then the answer's easy.
Says Contrino: "The old heartthrob is going to beat the new heartthrob."