Well done, Potter. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 posted the franchise’s best opening ever by grossing $125.1 million this weekend, according to studio estimates. That figure smashes the wizarding series’ prior opening-weekend record of $102.7 million, held by 2005′s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The new Potter flick also registered the sixth largest opening weekend of all time, landing just behind this year’s Iron Man 2, which debuted to $128.1 million in May.
Deathly Hallows launched its weekend spell late Thursday night when 3,700 theaters screened the PG-13 fantasy movie at midnight. (Some theaters arranged showings as late as 3:15 a.m.). The movie gathered $24 million from those screenings en route to a Friday tally of $61.2 million — the fifth best opening day, period. After Friday, Deathly Hallows essentially followed the box-office trajectory of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which was released on the same November weekend last year. New Moon earned a record $72.7 million its opening day, and then fell 42 and 34 percent on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Deathly Hallows held up a tad better, dropping 38 percent on Saturday (for $38.2 million) and an estimated 33 percent on Sunday (for $25.8 million). While Warner Bros. may have preferred a somewhat steadier ride from Deathly Hallows, no one’s complaining, least of all moviegoers — CinemaScore audiences gave the movie an “A” grade.
The weekend’s other new wide release, the break-my-wife-out-of-prison thriller The Next Three Days, could have used a charm or two. The $30 million movie landed in fifth place and earned an estimated $6.8 million — star Russell Crowe’s worst opening since 2006′s A Good Year. However, 83 percent of the PG-13 film’s audience was more than 25 years old, and the older a movie’s crowd gets, the less likely they are to immediately rush out and see it. With a “B+” rating from CinemaScore audiences, Lionsgate is hoping the picture will benefit from good word-of-mouth during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Despite having to play second fiddle to a teenage wizard, DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind slid a respectable 45 percent for $16.2 million. After three weeks, the superhero comedy has collected $109.5 million. In third place was the Denzel Washington runaway-train thriller Unstoppable, which grossed $13.1 million its second week — a deceleration of 42 percent. And the road-trip comedy Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, held up better than expected its third week. The R-rated film dropped 41 percent for $9.2 million, bringing its cumulative total to $72.7 million.
In limited release, the Oscar-hopeful Made in Dagenham, starring Sally Hawkins as an activist who leads the charge for female equal pay in 1960s England, debuted in three theaters and earned a decent $41,100. White Material, the French film by acclaimed director Claire Denis, also premiered in three theaters and grossed $36,300. And Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours continued to perform well as it gradually expands. The true-story drama, starring James Franco as a mountain climber who gets trapped by a boulder, took in $915,000 from 108 locations. Check back next week as four movies — Burlesque, Faster, Love and Other Drugs, and Tangled — launch on Wednesday for the extended Thanksgiving weekend. Which one will play the role of the turkey?
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 — $125.1 mil
2. Megamind — $16.2 mil
3. Unstoppable — $13.1 mil
4. Due Date — $9.2 mil
5. The Next Three Days — $6.8 mil