Box office preview: It’s the boy-who-lived versus the-girl-with-the-hair

Yep, though there is only one new major release, the real action this weekend is going to be between the two very strong holdovers: the third week of Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” and week #2 of “Tangled,” which may be well on its way to reviving Disney’s supposedly endangered princess brand. Figuring out which will emerge on top i’s really a matter of how much the respective films drop off and, as jolly Carl DiOrio wisely admits, involves a big guess. Still, he and Ben Fritz seem to agree that power-haired Rapunzel has some slight edge over horcrux-seeking Harry.

Both films did roughly equivalent business last weekend, though the Potter juggernaut earning extremely well over the entire Thanksgiving period. Still, family animated comedies traditionally have great holds, while the madness of the Potter fans generally makes for huge openings with huge drop-offs to follow. Fritz expects about $18 million for the Potter film and about a 50% drop off for “Tangled,” which I guess would mean roughly $23-25 million or so. I wouldn’t be surprised if the drop-off were small, though post-holiday doldrums could also hamper overall box office this weekend.

This week’s one major new release, a martial arts fantasy shot in New Zealand but set in a sort of Never-Never land version of the American West, “The Warrior’s Way,” is opening in a relatively very modest 1600 theaters. That’s probably a good thing because the film, which was made independently but is being distributed by upstartish Relativity Media, doesn’t appear to be generating any excitement. It’s been in the can for some time, though it boasts an interesting cast including Geoffrey Rush and Danny Huston in supporting roles as well as Kate Bosworth and talented Korean superstar Jang Dong-gun (“Typhoon“), whose been compared to Johnny Depp, as the butt-kicking super-swordsman lead.

The Warrior's Way

In an attempt to square the marketing circle, members of the press were shown clips from the film, wined and dined (in this case saki’d and sushi’d as the post-not-screening reception was held at an apparently very good Japanese restaurant) and allowed to interview some of the stars — including, in my case, Tony Cox of “Bad Santa” and “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnussus.” We’ll see how well the approach works. Ben Fritz is extremely pessimistic about its chances, jolly Carl is more jolly, but even he admits it’ll be somewhat lucky to break $10 million. This one’s best hope might be in the international market, but the refusal to show the film in its entirety to the press should be a tell to wary audiences.

There’s more because, as awards season heats up, several very interesting films are opening in limited release. Among them is “I Love You Phillip Morris.” It’s the long delayed but well-regarded same-sex romantic comedy and true-crime tale with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as lovers on the run. Also opening in a relatively aggressive 18 theaters is a very likely Oscar contender and already one of the most discussed genre-blending films of the year, “Black Swan.” It’s being described frequently as Powell and Pressberger’s “The Red Shoes” meets Polanski’s “Repulsion” and that’s good enough for me. More about that to come, for sure.

Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel in

  

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