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'Harry Potter' Box Office: Will It Break Records?

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LOS ANGELES - This forecast doesn't take a "Megamind" -- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" will be the No. 1 film at the nation's box offices this weekend, conjuring up receipts that could approach $120 million or beyond and likely set a debut record for the "Potter" movies, the most successful film franchise of all time.

A true "event" film in every sense of the word, this second-to-the-last installment in the eight-part, decade-long Warner Bros.' series will draw massive crowds to the multiplex as it benefits from a terrific marketing campaign, off-the-chart audience awareness, 4,125 screens, including a record number of IMAX screens, and midnight showings. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the only film in the series thus far to open in excess of $100 million, having earned $102.7 million in its first three days back in 2005.

Falling to a distant second, Paramount's release of the Dreamworks' animated 'Megamind' should take in about $18 million, with a third weekend drop in the mid-30 percent range. Timing can be everything in this business and the film enjoyed two solid weeks at the top of the charts in a "Potter"-less marketplace with a voracious family audience hungry for kid-appropriate product. As it crosses the $100 million mark this weekend, "Megamind" holds the distinction of being the first blockbuster of the 2010 holiday movie season.

In third place, expect last weekend's second-place finisher "Unstoppable" from 20th Century Fox to gross about $12 million, with a modest sub-50 percent second-weekend drop. Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have re-teamed for the fifth time in this runaway-train flick that uses the director's signature visual style to full effect. Couple that with the star power of Washington and his draw for older moviegoers and the film should total around $40 million by Sunday night.

Fourth place should belong to the Todd Phillips comedy "Due Date," which incidentally has been the No. 1 film in the international marketplace for the past two weeks. A likely drop in the mid-50 percent range will generate third weekend revenues in the sub $10 million range, with an overall domestic gross nearing the $70 million mark. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis as mismatched travel companions on a road trip from hell have made this R-rated comedy a solid holiday season hit.

"Morning Glory" from Paramount should scoop up fifth place with a second weekend gross of around $5 million and a post-weekend total nearing $20 million. The romantic comedy starring Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams debuted on a Wednesday and then took the fifth spot last weekend with $9.2 million and a first five day total of $11.8 million.

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