No surprise that 'Tangled' brushed past 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I' to take the box office crown. For more striking box office news, you have to look further down the chart, for the stunning thud made by 'The Warrior's Way' (the week's only new wide release) and the astonishing leaps made by Natalie Portman's ballet drama 'Black Swan' during its limited-release debut.
According to studio estimates, 'Tangled' raked in $21.5 million this week, bringing its 12-day total to $96.5 million. Slipping 56 percent from last week, Disney's Rapunzel cartoon was still coasting on unanimously positive word-of-mouth and strong reviews, a more family-friendly rating than 'Deathly Hallows,' and those 3-D surcharges.
'Harry Potter,' which had been showing signs of slowed momentum as early as its second weekend (which was last week, when 'Tangled' came within a hair of beating it), fell faster than 'Tangled,' dropping 66 percent this weekend to an estimated $16.7 million. Still, it should easily pass $250 million in a couple of days, well within three weeks of its release.
Like 'Tangled,' other movies showing an impressively slow decline this weekend were 'Burlesque,' 'Unstoppable' and 'Love and Other Drugs.' 'Burlesque' danced into third place this weekend with an estimated $6.1 million, down just 49 percent from its debut last week. Despite middling reviews, the Cher-Christina Aguliera musical is getting strong word of mouth from its target audience, for whom it delivers on the campy spectacle its ads have promised. Its 12-day total is just shy of $27 million.
'Unstoppable' keeps living up to its name. The runaway train thriller tied for third place with 'Burlesque' with an estimated $6.1 million. (Final numbers released Monday will probably find one or the other pulling ahead.) That's down just 47 percent from last week, for a four-weekend total of $68.9 million.
'Love and Other Drugs' fell just 41 percent in its second weekend. It scored an estimated $5.7 million, good for fifth place. Like 'Burlesque,' it's overcome middling reviews with positive word-of-mouth, strong adult appeal, and plenty of hype over its steaminess. Its 12-day total is $22.6 million.
Hype is what 'The Warrior's Way' could have used more of. The only new movie this week that had even close to a wide release (in 1,622 theaters), the martial arts/western had been sitting on a shelf for nearly three years, had a star and a first-time director unknown in the U.S., opened without screening for critics, and may have confused viewers who didn't know what to expect from its genre-mixing. Plus, it was vying for action fans with the still-popular 'Unstoppable' and even last week's box office disappointment 'Faster,' which at least could boast a familiar leading man in Dwayne Johnson.
About all 'The Warrior's Way' had going for it was a lack of competition from other new wide releases. Predictions ran in the range of $5 million, but the film opened with an estimated $3.1 million, taking the No. 9 spot on the chart.
Just a few rungs down, at No. 13, 'Black Swan' opened with an estimated $1.4 million, an impressive number for just 18 screens. That's a per-screen average of $77,459, a number topped this year only by last week's release of 'The King's Speech' ($88,862 on each of four screens). Both movies are riding a wave of Oscar buzz ('Black Swan' for Portman's performance, 'King's Speech' for Colin Firth's), while 'Black Swan' has also enjoyed months of hype over Portman's torrid on-screen liaison with Mila Kunis. Watch for this one to vault up the chart as it goes nationwide over the next few weeks.
The full top 10:
1. 'Tangled,' $21.5 million (3,603 screens), $96.5 million total
2. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I,' $16.7 million (4,125), $244.2 million
3. 'Burlesque,' $6.1 million (3,037), $27.0 million
3. 'Unstoppable,' $6.1 million (3,152), $68.9 million
5. 'Love and Other Drugs,' $5.7 million (2,458), $22.6 million
6. 'Megamind,' $5.0 million (3,173), $136.7 million
7. 'Due Date,' $4.2 million (2,450), $91.0 million
8. 'Faster,' $3.8 million (2,470), $18.1 million
9. 'The Warrior's Way,' $3.1 million (1,622), new release
10. 'The Next Three Days,' $2.7 million (2,236), $18.4 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.