April 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Here we go again… It’ll be a battle of boos at the box office this weekend, as two scary movies compete to take the cake. Okay, well, one is a bona fide, R-rated scary movie — Sony’s Silent Hill, the one that, if you’ve seen the posters, apparently stars a child with no mouth. It opens in 2,926 theaters, and should draw a big crowd because people love horror movies, and people also love movies where characters have no mouths (remember that bizarre scene in the first Matrix?). So audiences will thrill to $25 million, and that will vault Silent Hill into first place over last weekend’s champ, Scary Movie 4, which will drop 50 percent to a still-respectable $20 mil.

Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, and Eva Longoria star in 24: The Movie — sorry, I mean, Fox’s new Secret Service-set flick The Sentinel. Action-suspense movies have seen mixed results at the box office this spring (Inside Man hit, Firewall did okay, 16 Blocks missed), but this is the only one that a shares a title with the short story on which 2001: A Space Odyssey was based. All I’m saying is: The pedigree’s there. So expect The Sentinel to take in $16 mil in 2,819 venues.

And that brings us to the pointed political satire American Dreamz, from Universal and the Weitz brothers, who brought us divergent hits like American Pie and About a Boy. This is the trickiest bow of the week to predict. Spoofs and satires have been attracting crowds (see: Scary Movie 4, Thank You for Smoking), but this one’s opening in a moderate 1,500 locations and may alienate some segments of the population (i.e., those who still support President Bush). What’s more, my good pal Michelle reminds me that Phat Girlz opened with a dismal $3.1 mil earlier this month. Good point, Michelle. And I’ll also submit that Biker Boyz opened to $10.1 mil in 2003, Boyz N the Hood had a $10 mil bow in 1991, and eXistenZ premiered with $810,262 in 1999. The point iz, American Dreamz will earn $9 mil.

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