Is the whole country ready to experience the dark side of Los Angeles? We'll find out this weekend, as Michael Mann's ''Collateral'' reaches theaters.
''Collateral,'' a taut thriller starring Tom Cruise as a hitman and Jamie Foxx as the cab driver forced to chauffeur him for the evening, has strong early reviews on its side, but also an R rating and a major marquee star playing a villain. So don't expect a ''Mission: Impossible''-level opening weekend. Still, ''Collateral'' will score the No. 1 spot at the box office, with around $30 million.
Last week's top film, ''The Village,'' will begin to see the effects of its negative reviews, falling 55 percent or so from its $50.7 million debut to $23 million. But it should place higher than the weekend's other new wide release, the Brittany Murphy romantic comedy ''Little Black Book,'' which, thanks to young female moviegoers, should bring in about $14 million.
Returning films ''The Bourne Supremacy'' and ''The Manchurian Candidate'' will round out the top five, with $12 million and $11 million, respectively. But with ''Alien vs. Predator'' and ''The Princess Diaries 2'' arriving next week, they shouldn't get too comfortable there.