With Thanksgiving now a memory, adults and teens will banish families from the multiplexes this weekend, with the release of Tom Cruise's ''The Last Samurai'' and Jessica Alba's ''Honey.''
Cruise has proven himself a mammoth box office draw over the last 15 years, even managing a $25 million debut for 2001's disappointing ''Vanilla Sky.'' With ''Samurai'''s epic action sequences and early critical acclaim (filmmaker Ed Zwick just won Best Director honors from the National Board of Review), it should perform even better, premiering with about $28 million over the weekend.
I'm predicting a surprise second-place finish for ''Honey,'' Jessica Alba's hip-hop dancing story, with the rationale that young girls will flood theaters while their male counterparts are trying to sneak into the R-rated ''Samurai.'' ''Honey'' is only opening in about 1,900 theaters but could still debut with $17 million.
The holiday hits ''The Cat in the Hat'' and ''Elf'' will likely compete for No. 3, each slipping 40 to 45 percent and earning around $13 million, while Eddie Murphy's critically trounced ''The Haunted Mansion'' should drop 50 percent to $12 million. That's not good scary, that's bad scary.