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Box office preview: 'Harry Potter' likely to hold off newcomers

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Harry-Potter-prince_lIt’s going to take more than super-charged guinea pigs, a Katherine Heigl rom-com, or a freaky orphan to knock Harry Potter from its perch atop the box office. While G-Force, The Ugly Truth, and The Orphan will make a valiant effort trying, Harry Potter’s spell is just too strong. Check out my predictions below.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: $31 million

2007’s Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix fell 58 percent its second weekend after opening to $77 million its opening frame. This Potter should fall in the same range — and perhaps even steeper — considering it’s already grossed $177 million in just seven days of release.

2. G-Force: $25 million

Yes, it’s 3-D. Yes, it’s from uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer. But it’s about guinea pigs, for goodness sake, which automatically limits the audience to the Beverly Hills Chihuahua-viewing set, even if they are trained by the government. Chihuahua opened last February to $29 million. I don’t expect as much from this one, even if it is in 3-D and opening in over 3,200 theaters.

3. The Ugly Truth: $19 million

Sandra Bullock’s The Proposal opened earlier this summer to $33.6 million, but that featured a PG-13 rating and a hot Ryan Reynolds. The Ugly Truth‘s R-rating will significantly limit its playability, not to mention a rather formulaic concept of the beautiful single woman played by Katherine Heigl, always looking for the wrong man. Didn’t Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus come out like a decade ago? Add in the scathing early reviews and there is no way this movie is opening in the range of The Proposal.

4. Orphan: $14 million

The second R-rated film to bow this weekend, Orphan stars Vera Fermiga as the unwitting mother who adopts an evil child. Billboards are everywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into box office grosses. What Orphan does have on its side is its the first horror movie to bow since Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell opened in May.

5. Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: $10.5 million

Ice Age is likely to suffer most from the entry of G-Force in the marketplace. But the 3-D toon pic has already grossed close to $160 million, putting it on track to best the original Ice Age’s gross of $170 million and likely to near Ice Age: The Meltdown’s $195 million take.