By John Young
Updated January 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST
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Image Credit: Jaimie TruebloodBee-ware the following wasp puns: The Green Hornet should sting its competition this holiday weekend and easily buzz into first place. The Seth Rogen movie has seen its release delayed three times (from June 2010 to July 2010 to December 2010 to January 2011), but who says a superhero film has to open in the summer? The $110 million project, directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), should benefit greatly from Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which most American schools take off. Its only major competition is the Vince Vaughn-Kevin James comedy The Dilemma, which will skew older. Here are my predictions for the four-day weekend:

1. The Green Hornet: $41 million

The PG-13 film’s last release date was Dec. 22, 2010, before it was delayed to January to provide additional time for an after-the-fact 3-D conversion. But Sony may wind up looking particularly smart for moving The Green Hornet away from the holiday season, where it might have been squashed by the likes of TRON: Legacy and Little Fockers. While January is an almost completely untested period for the genre — 2005’s Elektra is the only other superhero movie to be released in the month, and it opened to a weak $14.8 million over the MLK weekend — I get the feeling that the public is craving a senseless, guilty-pleasure action film. The reviews aren’t good, but add in those surcharges for 3-D and IMAX screenings, and don’t be surprised to see this Hornet cruise by $40 million.

2. The Dilemma: $22 million

Now that the film’s whole “gay” dilemma has died down, we’re left with a PG-13 comedy featuring two actors (Vaughn and James) who are big draws at the box office, a respected director (Ron Howard), and a strong supporting cast including Jennifer Connelly, Queen Latifah, Channing Tatum, and Winona Ryder. The $70 million film will attract couples looking for a date option, but the premise (should you tell your best friend about his adulterous wife?) won’t appeal to kids to the extent that The Green Hornet will.

3. True Grit: $12 million

His jinx may be occupied, but Rooster Cogburn has become something of a box-office legend, with $114 million and counting. The Green Hornet and The Dilemma likely won’t steal too much of the Western’s base, so a drop of around 35 percent seems reasonable, I reckon.

4. Black Swan: $10 million

The ballet thriller leaps from 1,584 theaters to 2,328 theaters this weekend, and with its Oscar buzz, a likely Golden Globe win on Sunday for star Natalie Portman, and last weekend’s SNL parody, the film should have enough momentum to pass Little Fockers and claim fourth place. (Black Swan has been trumping the comedy the entire workweek).

5. Little Fockers: $9 million

Little Fockers will likely take a beating due to the arrival of The Dilemma and the mildly comedic Green Hornet. A decline of 50 percent would result in a four-day tally of about $9 million, bringing the film’s cumulative tally to $136 million.

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