By John Young
Updated December 09, 2010 at 11:56 PM EST
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Image Credit: Phil BrayAfter last week’s deadly results, the box office will thankfully be injected with some fresh energy this weekend. For one thing, Narnia is happenin’. Fox is releasing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third film adapted from C.S. Lewis’ beloved series of fantasy novels. Aslan the Lion will be facing off against two of Hollywood’s biggest cash cows, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, in Sony’s romantic thriller The Tourist. The victor should easily be Narnia, but the real test will be whether the $140 million film can make enough in the long run to convince Fox and Walden Media to finance a fourth Narnia movie. My weekend predictions:

Will 3-D and Narnia equal crazy delicious? (Okay, sorry, ending 5-year-old SNL reference now.) Disney abandoned the series after 2008’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian grossed “only” $141.6 million domestically (and $419.7 million worldwide). By comparison, the first entry, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe converted $291.7 million stateside, and $745 million worldwide. It’s hard to know whether the series, which Fox is now distributing, is trapped in a downward spiral or not. Or maybe all of the Narnia sequels will simply earn around the same amount as Prince Caspian. I’m opting for a slight spiral in which Dawn Treader debuts to $40 million. (Wardrobe tallied $65.6 million when it opened the same weekend in 2005, and Prince Caspian premiered to $55 million). The PG movie should then play well throughout the rest of the holiday season, especially as Fox continues to court Christian audiences.

2. The Tourist: $22 million

One would think pairing Johnny Depp with Angelina Jolie would automatically ignite box-office fireworks. But The Tourist isn’t tracking nearly as well as Dawn Treader, and the PG-13 Venetian thriller, a remake of the 2005 French film Anthony Zimmer, has so far received tepid reviews. Ultimately, the film will likely perform much better overseas, where Depp and Jolie’s names will be even bigger selling points, and where Oscar-winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (whose full name is Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck) is better-known. Here in America, expect an opening of about $22 million — modest, but nothing to sneeze at.

3. Tangled: $13 million

Dawn Treader will steal some of Tangled‘s family audience, as well as many of its 3-D screens. But, again, audiences truly love this animated musical’s happily-ever-after sheen, so a slide of about 40 percent seems about right. Tangled will cross the $100 million mark today and finish the weekend with about $114 million.

Harry can only hold on for so long, and with the emergence of another fantasy epic in Dawn Treader, the PG-13 film will probably fall just under 50 percent this weekend. Deathly Hallows should hit $250 million domestically on Friday.

5. Burlesque: $3.5 million

Fifth place should be a rematch of last week’s battle for third place, where the Cher-Christina Aguilera musical Burlesque surprisingly beat out the Denzel Washington action thriller Unstoppable — by less than $200,000. I think Burlesque will barely trump Unstoppable once again. The former has been kicking around in third place throughout the workweek, while the latter’s been parked in fifth place.

In limited release, David O. Russell’s boxing drama, The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, enters the ring at four theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. And Julie Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest unfolds in five theaters.

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