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Box office preview: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' to lead Thanksgiving weekend

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Image Credit: Jaap BuitendijkA cornucopia of new releases will attempt to steal Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows‘ thunder. Fat chance. This holiday weekend, Potter is the ultimate box-office weapon — prepared to handle any adversary. His biggest challenger arrives in the animated form of Disney’s Tangled, but by the end of this weekend, Rapunzel could very well be sporting Emma Watson’s hairdo. As for the extremely revealing romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs, Dwayne Johnson’s R-rated action movie Faster, and the Cher and Christina Aguilera musical Burlesque — well, they should all be happy just to be sitting at the dining table. Harry Potter is mighty hungry, and this Thanksgiving weekend, he’s coming back for seconds. Here are my predictions for the three-day weekend:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1: $53 million

After consuming $125 million its opening weekend, Deathly Hallows grossed $8.8 million and $10.3 million on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, bringing its five-day domestic total to a staggering $144.1 million. So clearly Muggles are still very interested in the fantasy flick, and that should continue to be the case this weekend. A second-week decline of about 58 percent seems in order. While that may appear to be a steep drop, keep in mind that Deathly Hallows‘ debut weekend was particularly front-loaded. (It made $24 million from Thursday midnight screenings alone). By Sunday night, the movie should be sitting with a belt-bursting cumulative total of at least $220 million.

2. Tangled: $35 million

This animated retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale is being released in 3,603 theaters, of which nearly 70 percent will be projecting the PG musical in 3-D. Those premium-ticket surcharges, in addition to the film’s favorable reviews and Disney’s omnipresent marketing, should help push the movie past $30 million for the weekend. By comparison, Disney’s most recent non-Pixar animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, opened wide last December to $24.2 million. But with Tangled‘s action sequences (and male co-lead) being heavily promoted, young boys should show more interest this time than they did with Princess. And for family audiences that have already seen Deathly Hallows (or with children too young to see that PG-13 film), Tangled will likely be their top entertainment choice.

3. Burlesque: $13 million

The critics aren’t too impressed with this $55 million musical, but that shouldn’t deter supporters of Christina Aguilera and/or Cher from checking it out. Sony released Rent five years ago during the same Thanksgiving frame, and even with that Broadway musical’s legion of fans, the film version could only muster $10 million its first weekend. Burlesque should perform a tad better, thanks to the beauty of inflation.

4. Megamind: $12.5 million

Even though the DreamWorks Animation superhero comedy has a new 3-D competitor in Tangled, Thanksgiving weekend is very kind to family films. Expect a drop of only 22 percent.

5. Faster: $12 million

After a parade of comedies and family fare, Dwayne Johnson is back in his first action vehicle since 2005’s Doom. The R-rated Faster — in which Johnson plays a revenge-seeking ex-con armed with guns, knives, and a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS — should appeal to those who prefer their Thanksgiving movies to be a bit, well, bloodier. Made for $24 million, Faster should bring in half of that over the three-day weekend.

6. Love and Other Drugs: $10 million

Despite all the talk about Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway’s aversion to clothes in this R-rated romantic comedy, Fox’s Love and Other Drugs is burdened with an unwieldy title and a fair share of mediocre reviews. Ultimately, this is an adult date movie being released on a weekend when families reign supreme. Look for an initially soft opening, with a potentially more promising prognosis a week or two down the line.