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''Black Hawk Down'' should outbattle ''Mothman''

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Josh Hartnett, Black Hawk Down

Welcome to the most crowded movie weekend of the new year. After last week’s impressive debut for ”Black Hawk Down,” four new big-studio films enter the race this weekend, though none seem strong enough to knock off Josh Hartnett and Co. Building on its $28.6 million performance, the brutal military drama should benefit from strong word of mouth, falling only about 35 percent to $19 million.

That should be enough to top the most promising of the new releases, the Richard Gere/Laura Linney thriller ”The Mothman Prophecies,” about a strange paranormal phenomenon haunting a West Virginia town. Thanks to sharp and ubiquitous TV ads (and game cooperation from the usually media-shy Gere), the flick should manage to freak out audiences to the tune of $14 million.

Cuba Gooding Jr.’s kiddie entry ”Snow Dogs” is back for a second weekend after premiering with a surprisingly robust $17.8 million. A 35 percent drop would result in another $11 million and a third place finish for the Alaskan romp.

Rounding out the top five will likely be debuts ”A Walk to Remember,” the high school romance starring pop singer Mandy Moore, and ”The Count of Monte Cristo,” a tough-sell period action thriller with ”Memento”’s Guy Pearce. Both should end up with about $10 million.

But wait — didn’t I say there were four new releases this week? That’s right: We can’t forget the martial arts spoof ”Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist.” But we can’t guarantee audiences won’t.

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