No suspense here: ''Village'' will open at No. 1. M. Night Shyamalan's latest will debut on top -- but expect ''Bourne Supremacy'' to surpass the week's other debuts, including ''Manchurian Candidate''

By Dave Karger
July 30, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’ll take ”The Village” to knock Matt Damon from the top of the box office chart this weekend.

Director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller hits theaters two years after his ”Signs” made a phenomenal $60.1 million its first weekend. His prior entry, ”Unbreakable,” opened with $30.3 million in the fall of 2000. Lacking the star power of Mel Gibson (”The Village” features Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, and newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard) and already earning less-than-rave reviews, ”The Village” will likely see an opening tally between those last two debuts. Expect it to gross about $45 million in its first three days.

That would push Damon’s ”The Bourne Supremacy” to second place. The well-received sequel is likely to slip 50 percent, from its fantastic $52.5 million opening weekend to $26 million.

Also opening this weekend is Jonathan Demme’s remake of ”The Manchurian Candidate,” starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. Obviously more of an adult draw, the political thriller won’t give ”The Village” a run for No. 1 but could see a decent $24 million debut.

Will Smith’s ”I, Robot” will take another big fall, to about $10 million, while teenage boys in the mood for something on the stupid side will flock to the new stoner comedy ”Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” which should see a $9 million debut.

The week’s final new wide release, the family action film ”Thunderbirds,” will duke it out for sixth place with ”Catwoman” and ”Spider-Man 2,” all of which could earn about $7 million. Even younger kids, ”Thunderbirds”’ target audience, are probably more excited about the PG-13-rated ”Village.”