‘Grudge’ against mob

Will sequel prove equal?

After waking up last Sunday to his most flush weekend ever, Martin Scorsese should find his star-studded, sophisticated crime drama “The Departed” deposed by the latest installment of Sony’s “The Grudge” horror franchise.

Pic should pack a potent punch heading into Halloween: First remake in the series bowed a year ago to $39.1 million on its way to $110.3 million.

And gunning for “Departed’s” older-skewing core aud, meanwhile, will be Barry Levinson and Universal’s populist political fantasy “Man of the Year,” in which Robin Williams toplines as the U.S. president.

Fox will bow “The Marine,” which has been getting a raft of promotion through World Wrestling Entertainment.

Sony isn’t expecting “Grudge 2” to hit the opening frame heights of its predecessor in a market still offering the latest in New Line’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise, which bowed to $18.5 million last frame.

Last year, “Grudge” had little genre competish. But in the sequel’s corner is that it’s the frame’s widest new release, with 3,211 playdates, and it’s rated PG-13, whereas “Chainsaw” is rated R.

Pic will aim to target both sexes in the under 25 crowd.

Male-skewing “Marine” stars John Cena — the sometime rapper and champ of the squared circle. WWE has pumped the pic heavily during its own broadcasts over the past week. But “Marine” likely will have a hard time wrestling with heated competish of Scorsese and Halloween-time horror fare.

Counterprogramming for kids, the Weinstein Co. will send the potential adventure franchise “Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker” to 221 engagements.

Away from the studio scene, October continues to usher in a raft of specialty pics all bumping elbows for biz, arthouse screens and any potential awards attention.

Warner Independent, which has “The Science of Sleep” still in theaters, will roll out “Infamous,” its Truman Capote biopic following last year’s “Capote.” Pic — bowing in 179 engagements — has received good buzz, but still must overcome its popular predecessor to persuade auds they need another dose of the eclectic author’s story.

Lionsgate, meanwhile, will roll out “Deliver Us From Evil,” a docu examining chronic pedophilia among longtime priests. Pic, bowing on four screens, has gotten news media attention lately, as it has spurred investigators to possibly reopen a controversial case the docu explores.

Sony Classics will open its acquisition “Driving Lessons,” which just played the New York Film Festival, on eight screens, and ThinkFilm, which has gotten off to a good start with its racy “Shortbus,” will roll out “Tideland” on one screen.

Still on the niche scene, however, are Miramax’s “The Queen,” Fox Searchlight’s “The Last King of Scotland” and the Yari Group’s long-legged “The Illusionist.”

On the foreign front, a pair of adult-oriented entries — Fox’s “The Devil Wears Prada” and UIP’s “World Trade Center” — will probably lead the pack for the second straight frame.

“Prada,” which won last weekend and has cumed $48.5 million overseas, expands into Austria, Germany, Holland, Italy and Taiwan. Worldwide cume has hit $182 million.

“WTC,” which has totaled $43.5 million offshore from 30 markets, goes into Italy and South Korea. Its worldwide total has eclipsed $113 million.

Sony’s “Click” will also be a factor overseas as it’s already matched “50 First Dates” at $75.6 million for best foreign performance by an Adam Sandler pic.

BVI’s making its first foreign push for “The Guardian” into major markets with launches in Denmark, Spain and Sweden. Fox is opening “The History Boys” in the U.K., a month ahead of its Stateside launch.

Other openings include UIP’s “Jackass Number Two” in Russia, Fox’s “Little Miss Sunshine” in Argentina and Australia, Sony’s “Monster House” in Italy, Sony’s “Open Season” in Mexico and the U.K., and Sony’s “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” in Germany.

(Dave McNary in Hollywood contributed to this report.)

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