Harry Potter Smashing Records Left and Right, Can It Top Dark Knight?
07.15.11 by Chris
If you haven't heard (and how could you not) the final Harry Potter is currently in theaters, and if you thought that the conclusion of the highest-grossing movie franchise in history would go out with anything less than a spectacular bang, then you're dumber than Grawp.
In his final outing in theaters, the boy wizard is taking out more than Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter has his spectacles set on a number of box office records.
Let's go through what records have already been smashed and which are in danger:
Midnight: Harry Potter has already topped Eclipse's $30M record with a staggering $43.5M. The movie played in more than 3,800 screens and Warner Brothers said nearly all of the 3-D screenings were sold out, so it looks like the decision to add another dimension to Harry Potter is already paying off.
Single Day: We won't know this until this weekend but it looks like New Moon's record of $72M is endangered. Some theaters are reportedly screening the movie around the clock today. Warner Bros. told Deadline that it's expecting Deathly Hallows to gross another $40M before the end of the day today, putting the movie at around $80M. Twihards are going to be pissed.
Widest Opening: Eclipse still holds the record for the widest opening ever. Harry Potter opened on 4,375 screens, while Eclipse opened to 4,468 screens.
IMAX: Mr. Potter opened up on 274 IMAX screens, a record, earning $2M, another record.
Opening Foreign Release: While Harry Potter has always been successful stateside, the movies are even more popular overseas. North American grosses only account for about a third of the grosses of Harry Potter so you can expect the worldwide appetite for the final installment to be massive. Current record holder is this year's Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tide with $260M. Warner Bros. is already etching Harry Potter's name on this record.
Worldwide Foreign Release: Even with all the magic in Hogwarts, this one might be a tall order. Box Office Mojo has Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince having the #1 worldwide release of all time with $394M, followed by Dark of the Moon with $382M. But if anyone is going to top Harry Potter then it's going to be Potter himself. Again, this is the first Harry Potter to be available in 3-D, a.k.a. higher ticket prices.
Biggest Weekend: This is the mack daddy of all box office records — the biggest three-day weekend opening. It's the Holy Grail for studios. Of course we all know The Dark Knight is the current champion with $158M. That's a huge number and it's possible, very possible that Deathly Hallows can own that record come Monday morning. The closest Harry Potter has ever gotten to that record was with Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which grossed $125M.
In it's favor, Deathly Hallows has 3-D on it's side. Unlike the other 3-D tentpole movies this summer, more people are opting to pay an extra $3-$5 to see Deathly Hallows. Dark Knight had to earn its title without that advantage. No one doubts there is a huge demand for Harry Potter. Deathly Hallows had one of the biggest pre-sales in history, but it came in #2 behind New Moon.
Despite how many people come out to see Harry Potter this weekend, topping Dark Knight comes down to just logistics. Can Warner Bros. pack enough people dressed as wizards and owls in theathers to make $160M in just three days? Deathly Hallows and Dark Knight both opened roughly on the same number of theaters, 4,375 and 4,366 respectably. But where Deathly Hallows has the real advantage is running time. Deathly Hallows has a running time of 130 minutes while Dark Knight had a slightly longer running time of 152 minutes (meaning theaters can squeeze in an extra showing or two)— just a difference of 22 minutes but when you only have 72 hours, every minute counts.
Not in Deathly Hallows favor? The concern of front-loaded anticipation. Sure, it's going to have the midnight and single-day records but will the theaters be as packed come Saturday and Sunday? New Moon had the previous single-day record and it's weekend gross was $142M. A huge number but it didn't top Dark Knight.
With The Dark Knight Returns and both parts of Breaking Dawn both on the horizon, all of these records are still vulnerable. We'll see Monday when the dust settles which records Harry Potter has but I think we can all agree this franchise is ending in a way that would make Dumbledore very happy.