Christmas will arrive early at the box office this weekend with the new Vince Vaughn comedy Fred Claus. Box office forecasters estimate that it will take in $22-26 million and wind up as the top attraction. Coming in a close second, they predict, will be last weekend's winner, American Gangster, with about $18-22 million -- or possibly Bee Movie, which ranked No. 2 last weekend. Analysts have expressed little hope for the war-related Lions for Lambs, despite the fact that it costars Tom Cruise, Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Films about the Middle East conflict have all performed poorly at the box office, and Lions, the first United Artists film produced under the aegis of Cruise, has been bombed by critics. This will be the first weekend in which films will premiere without their stars having had access to the late-night talk shows, since most of them are in rerun mode in the wake of the writers' strike. On Thursday, however, Vaughn, an avowed conservative and Republican, appeared on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News to promote Fred Claus.