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Can ‘Bourne’ reign supreme this weekend?

Rookies set to take on robots

This article was updated at 7:40 p.m.

Studios try not to schedule their ambitious and expensive franchise pictures built around top talent against one another. But this weekend presents a rare collision. Universal’s “The Bourne Supremacy” is set to unspool in 3,158 theaters, while Warner Bros.’ “Catwoman” prowls 3,117 locations.

Matt Damon’s “Bourne” is expected to reign supreme, with box office of about $35 million and a chance of exceeding $40 million. Halle Berry starrer “Catwoman” has a shot at No. 2 if the pic gets past $20 million but may have to contend for the spot with 20th Century Fox’s holdover, “I, Robot.” The Will Smith sci-fi pic has made $68.9 million through Wednesday and should gross in the 20s in its second frame.

U’s first Robert Ludlum adaptation, “The Bourne Identity,” was a sleeper hit in summer 2002. Though it opened respectably with $27.1 million, it was overshadowed by “Scooby-Doo,” which did double the biz that same weekend.

Original showed legs

Two years later, “Scooby-Doo 2” has come and gone without making too much of a ripple at the box office. But “Supremacy,” bolstered by a fan base, good reviews and healthy tracking, is expected to exceed its original, which showed legs and ultimately cumed $121.7 million.

“We’re hoping to expand on ‘The Bourne Identity’s’ opening,” said U’s distrib prexy Nikki Rocco.

Ludlum, who died in 2001, wrote a third Bourne book, and U is already laying plans to adapt it and considering how to continue the franchise into a fourth film and beyond.

“Identity” is arguably the biggest film of Damon’s career, though he has appeared in ensemble pics such as “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Saving Private Ryan” that did bigger biz.

With Damon as the primary draw for “Supremacy,” tracking on the film reveals broad interest in all four quadrants, though males are the strongest segments.

Though Berry in a tiny, torn leather costume would seem to be enough to pique male comicbook fan desire, tracking on the film is actually showing stronger interest among women.

“It’s going to play to all four quadrants,” Warners distrib prexy Dan Fellman said, but “it shows strength with women.”

Unknown B.O. quantity

Like Damon, Berry is a big star who doesn’t have a long record of toplining films. For instance, the biggest commercial films of her career, such as “X-Men,” “X2” and “Die Another Day,” were previously established franchises with several other names leading the credits.

Her most recent film, “Gothika,” the only wide release where hers was the primary marquee name, opened last November with $19.3 million and went on to cume $59.6 million.

Several specialty films are planning aggressive expansions this weekend. Making the biggest jump is Fox Searchlight’s “Napoleon Dynamite,” which will add 210 theaters for a total run of 389. Pic, which opened back on June 11, has cumed $4.7 million.

MGM is adding 148 locations for “De-Lovely,” bringing its theater count to 333. Cole Porter biopic has grossed $3.1 million.

“The Door in the Floor,” which opened on 47 screens last week, will expand to 120 in its sophomore sesh.

New entrants in the limited marketplace include two Japanese imports: Miramax’s actioner “Zatoichi” on four screens in Gotham and L.A. and Vitagraph’s horror “Ju-on: The Grudge” on three screens in New York, L.A. and Irvine.

Other limited bows include Warner Independent Pictures’ “A Home at the End of the World” on five in Gotham, L.A. and San Francisco and ThinkFilm’s “Festival Express” on one in San Francisco.

Also expanding is Regent’s Clinton era political doc “The Hunting of the President,” which bows on the West Coast.

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