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VIDEO: 'Harry Potter,' 'Tangled' Continue Box-Office Battle; 'Warrior's Way' Unlikely to Slay Moviegoers

Disney's animated take on Rapunzel could knock Warner Bros.' boy wizard out of the No. 1 spot this weekend.

Once more, and with less feeling.

The guys changing marquees at the nation’s multiplexes get a breather this week, with just one movie set to open wide Friday. That compares to a whopping four wide openers during the last weekend’s Thanksgiving-stretched session.

That’s not to say Relativity-distributed The Warrior’s Way will be competition-free when it unspools in roughly 1,600 locations, and the martial-arts actioner is unlikely to open at No. 1. The top holdovers are likely to mark big drops from their opening tallies during a session known more for Christmas shopping than moviegoing, but at least a couple are certain to do substantial business.

Disney’s 3D-animated feature Tangled may manage to top box-office rankings in its second frame after ceding domestic bragging rights to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 last weekend in the Warner Bros. film’s sophomore session.

Tangled enjoyed a five-day debut of almost $69 million, with $49 million of that coming Friday through Sunday. So even with half as much box office this weekend, that would be a $25 million haul in its sophomore session.

Hallows Part 1 fetched $50 million last weekend and was thus sitting in a similar situation heading into the latest session while toting an incredible $230 million in cumulative domestic box office. Last weekend’s other new wide releases saw soft first frames, but this session represents a chance to display sturdy legs for Sony dance musical Burlesque, Fox romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs and CBS Films actioner Faster.

Relativity is strictly a distributor-for-hire on Warrior’s Way. A $42 million New Zealand project, the R-rated pic is set in the U.S. badlands and thus something of a Western.

Korean actor Dong-gun Jang plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town. Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston figure among additional cast directed by Sngmoo Lee, who also penned the screenplay.

Younger males form the target audience for Warrior’s Way, but must-see interest is slack. A bow in the middle single-digit millions looks likely.

Also this weekend, Fox Searchlight opens Natalie Portman starrer The Black Swan in limited release with 18 playdates in eight markets. The atmospheric suspenser is among a handful of prestige pics seeking to use kudos-season promos to fuel lucrative platform campaigns.

On an industrywide basis, this weekend will be compared with a limp $100 million session whose top opener was Lionsgate’s Brothers, which fetched just $9.5 million in its first three days. Film distributors tend to avoid the first frame in December, when many prospective moviegoers tend to be preoccupied by Christmas shopping.

Year to date, industry box office is up 2% from a year earlier at $9.66 billion. That makes it increasingly unlikely that movie admissions will post a year-over-year gain in 2010 after accounting for roughly 5% ticket-price inflation during the past 12 months.