Box office preview: 'Harry Potter' aims its wand at 'Twilight' and 'The Dark Knight'

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Here we go. For box-office prognosticators, it doesn’t get more exciting than this. A little movie named Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 hits theaters at midnight tonight, and it’s about to make such a large amount of money that you’d need two of Hermione’s bottomless bags to carry it all. But just how much dough are we talking about here? And how many box-office records will fall as Muggles bid farewell to the highest grossing film series of all time? After consulting with Professor Trelawney, here’s what my box-office tealeaves had to say:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 2: $152 million

Going into the weekend, there is a trio of records that Potter will attempt to break: midnight debut, opening day, and opening weekend. Let’s look at each individually. The biggest midnight debut ever was posted by last year’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which earned $30 million. Potter should have no trouble passing that benchmark, plus Deathly Hallows — Part 1‘s $24 million midnight total. The PG-13 movie is playing in more than 3,800 theaters at midnight and, according to Warner Bros., has already grossed $25 million from midnight tickets purchased in advance. Fandango is reporting that 6,300 midnight shows have already sold out, and that the online ticketing service has sold more midnight and early morning shows for Potter than for any other movie ever. Add in IMAX theaters — 99 percent of all IMAX midnight shows have sold out, according to the large-screen company — and 3-D surcharges, and you’re looking at a midnight debut that should reach $35 million and possibly $40 million.

Potter‘s massive midnight start may also fuel its opening-day tally past the record of $72.7 million, which is held by The Twilight Saga: New Moon. The wizarding movie is playing on more than 11,000 screens in 4,375 theaters — the third-widest release ever. Of those 4,375 theaters, more than 3,000 will be showing the movie in 3-D, which makes this the largest 3-D release ever. And according to Warner Bros., Potter has so far collected a total of $45 million from pre-release ticket sales. And, yup, that’s also a record. Part 1 conjured up $61.7 million its first day, of which 39 percent came from midnight showings. If one assumes that Part 2 will be a bit more front-loaded with its midnight gross — let’s say it accounts for half of its opening day — that places the movie on track for $70 million to $80 million during its first day. Let’s split the difference and say that Potter breaks the record with $75 million.

The trickiest figure to predict here, though, is Potter’s weekend total. Just how front-loaded will the film be? How much will it drop from Friday to Saturday? Part 1 fell 38 percent from Friday to Saturday, and 34 percent from Saturday to Sunday. If Part 2 follows suit, it’ll gross $46.5 million on Saturday and $30.5 million on Sunday — for a weekend total of $152 million. That sounds about right, and would place Potter a bit below The Dark Knight‘s opening-weekend record of $158.4 million. As passionate as Potter fans may be, this is the eighth film in the series, and those who haven’t kept up with the past seven films may sit this one out. Also, Los Angeles will be enduring Carmageddon, with the vital 405 freeway shutting down for construction for the whole weekend. Many Angelenos may refuse to leave their homes, but a number of industry experts told me that Carmageddon could work in Potter‘s favor, as residents will travel to their local theaters instead of farther destinations like the beach.

A final factor to consider is Potter‘s reviews. Not only is Part 2 earning glowing reviews, it has received the best reviews of any wide-release film so far this year, according to both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. Someone who isn’t interested in the Potter series isn’t going to rush out and catch Part 2 just because it’s critically acclaimed, but those who were waiting to see the film its second weekend may become more inclined to buy a ticket sooner rather than later. And if Part 2 is as enchanting as the critics are claiming, Potterheads may insist on seeing the movie two or three times this weekend. In other words, while I’m not predicting Potter will surpass The Dark Knight‘s opening-weekend record, I’m not saying it couldn’t happen. This is Harry Potter we’re talking about, and he’s been known to do some extraordinary things.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon: $23 million

Having just typed 739 words about Potter, let’s keep this brief: Michael Bay’s symphony of clashing metal dropped 52 percent its second weekend. Moviegoers seem to like Transformers — it earned an “A” from CinemaScore graders — but Potter will steal away the film’s IMAX theaters and many of its 3-D screens. Another fall of at least 50 percent seems likely.

3. Horrible Bosses: $17 million

It’s been a splendid summer for R-rated comedies, as this kill-your-superiors flick debuted to a strong $28.3 million last weekend. CinemaScore audiences gave it a healthy “B+” rating, and the film will serve as attractive counter-programming for those not interested in wizards and robots. Figure a decline of about 40 percent.

4. Zookeeper: $11 million

Its reviews would frighten a rhinoceros, but this Kevin James comedy also received a “B+” from CinemaScore moviegoers and opened to a solid $20.1 million last weekend. However, Potter should snatch away a significant portion of Zookeeper‘s family audience, and Winnie the Pooh may also offer some competition. Let’s say a 45-percent drop.

5. Winnie the Pooh: $10 million

The G-rated, 69-minute animated movie has earned favorable reviews, and has particularly been singled out as being a wonderful way to introduce young children to moviegoing. The last Pooh film to hit theaters was 2005’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, which debuted to $5.8 million. Winnie the Pooh should open to nearly double that.

Comments (90 total) Add your comment
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  • Person

    All I want is for potter to break the Twi-Sh*t records. Then, between that and The Dark Knight, quality films will hold the top spots.

    • LOL

      This ^^^^

      • LOL

        But what I really want is a re release of Fast Five. After a summer of crap, people would flock to a quality film like Fast Five. Just add some deleted scenes, don’t just save them for the DVD. I would love to see a quality film like Fast Five in the top five grossing films of all time.

    • whatnowsucka

      I second that.

    • PETER

      Person – Thank you. I needed that LOL tonight. Couldn’t agree more.

    • Johnn

      It’s all good. AVATAR 2 will obliterate every single record that Harry Potter, Twilight and TDKR make. Just you watch as the sequel to the biggest-grossing film of all time opens with unreal numbers….

      • daisy

        yes, all the people who like pretty pictures and don’t care about how incredibly lame the story is will flock to James Camerons next crapfest

    • andrea

      I agree with you.

    • Laura

      Totally Agree! Come on Potter heads! Let’ show these soccer moms and Beiber-lovin tweens how it’s DONE!!

      • karen

        I believe ‘twilight moms’ is more accurate.

    • ken

      Quality films? Take away the Joker from the Dark Knight, and you have a film almost as overhyped as Batman Begins.

      And this is just my opinion, but HP 7 (part 2) felt rushed. I would never watch part 1 and part 2 back to back. It’s like watching a chess tournament before a sprint race.

    • rain

      I think a lot of people want that including me. HP7 part 2 already broke the record for midnight sales so that’s a start. Opening day is next and then weekend…

  • Keith

    Just a hunch, but I think Potter is going to break all the records mentioned on here. It has everything going for it. A rabid fanbase plus widespread appeal, stellar reviews and it’s the LAST Potter film. Excitement is HIGH. Go Harry!

    • District 12

      Just saw the movie and to be honest I was disappointed, they changed A LOT from the books, I won’t be seeing it again this opening weekend like I had planned.

      • corwinsr

        Not to be rude, but no it doesn’t. I’d like a second on that from others here who just saw the movie as I did and have also read the book. Frankly, it’s the truest movie to any of the books – quite the opposite of what you say.

      • Deidre

        I also strongly disagree. This movie was very true to the book, even more so than the last film and that was the closest one yet. This movie was spectacular!!! If you’re not a Potter fan after this movie, it’d be ridiculous. 5 freakin’ starts!

      • jen

        are you sure you actually watched the movie & aren’t some troll? The movie was remarkable and was the closest to the books of all the 8 movies.

      • Tired

        It is the truest to the book of all movies. There is a lot of dialog straight out of the book! That didn’t happen nearly as much in the other movies. The Princes Tale stuff completely undid me.

      • Ali

        This was, by far, the closest that any of the movies has been to the book. I was amazed with everything when I walked out of the theatre last night. And I know I will be amazed when I walk out of the theatre tonight and every other night after that. This is definately a movie to see more than once.

      • Jess

        District 12 is probably just a troll or a Twi-hard trying to start some nasty inaccurate rumors.

      • Gloria

        I actually don’t think it was the truest out of all 8 films.. That would be an exaggeration. I think the truest would have to be the Sorcerer’s Stone, though it was much easier to stay accurate with that book (considering its length). On the other hand, I don’t think they changed a lot for Part 2, but some of the things they did change really bothered me. (Like the scene with Aberforth)

      • cece

        no there was alot wrong. and the deaths were horrible. i didnt even have time to register that Fred was dead!! and the whole Bellatrix fight could have been so much better! peter was supposed to die and harry was supposed to fix his wand with the elder wand. they really screwed it up

  • Dave

    The predictions for Deathly Hallows Part 2 seem about right. I also think it will fall slightly short of The Dark Knight’s record opening weekend, but wouldn’t be surprised if it does end up hitting $160 million.

  • A

    The reviews for Potter are stellar! It even has a perfect 100% from the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

    • karen

      97% its been like that for about 2 days.

      • Dave

        ‘A’ said 100% from Top Critics on the site, which is correct.

  • Jenny

    … and then hopefully the Hobbit will knock whatever Breaking Dawn makes off the charts and join Potter and the Dark Knight in the top three.

    • Al

      My bet is on the Avengers

      • Diane

        Mine is on The Hobbit since it’s based on a classic story so many different people love

    • tim

      I just hope some non-epic, non-fantasy, non-run-for-your-life film will knock EVERYTHING off the top. I’m tired of seeing spectacle, explosions, and shock and awe.

    • Alan

      In 2012 we’ll have The Avengers, Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, and some Twilight movie. You honestly think that The Hobbit will beat all of these?!?

  • Paige

    I just hope Winnie the Pooh does well at the box office. I grew up with Winnie the Pooh, so I’m glad it has been getting good reviews.

    • Kate

      This is exactly what I’m thinking!

    • steph

      i know! i get so nostalgic just seeing the commercials!

      • Diane

        I’m stealing my niece and nephew so I have tots with me. I hope they love Pooh as much as I do

    • Jose

      I;m going to watch it with several of my friends this weekend after Harry Potter.

  • Darrin

    I feel sorry for anyone paying full price to see Winnie the Pooh now that you said it only last 69 minutes, which I’m sure includes the credits. Just over an hour long?? They’d better tack on a few short films to give people their money’s worth.

    • derek

      Then again, if you’re roped into taking a passel of screaming kids to a movie, the short run time might be a big selling point.

    • Kate

      The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was only 74 minutes. The Pooh movies have never been long so why would this one be? I’d rather pay full price for a short movie that I’ll probably love instead of a 3 hour movie that I’ll probably never care to see again, like Harry Potter or Pirates. But that is just my personal opinion.

  • JC

    Hahaha it’s hilarious yet spot on that you mention “Carmaggedon”in the article. Everyone I know in LA is staying inside this weekend. I do wonder if that will affect numbers.

    • AK

      Nothing will keep rabid Potterheads from that movie—not even “Carmaggedon.” But it would be interesting to see a comparison of opening weekend numbers for previous HP films in the greater L.A. compared to this one (and then how the difference between those stacks up against other major markets).

    • Erin

      I’m a resident of LA and a Potterhead. I wasn’t planning on leaving my apartment this weekend because people really don’t know how to drive here. After seeing Part 2 tonight, I’m definitely leaving my apartment at least twice this weekend to see it again. Carmaggedon be damned. It was that good.

      • D

        As a longtime LA resident who now lives in the midwest, I’m glad to see your post! Yes, closing the 405 is a nightmare, but you actually CAN get from point A to point B without it. I hope people just rely on their closest theaters and get out there to see this movie!

  • kik

    lol. so much hate for twilight. not a suprise. here’s the really funny thing you don’t have to go see any of the twilight movies. if you don’t like, then don’t watch. don’t forget though, that there are still two more movies coming out.

    • MojoJojo

      Don’t remind me :(

    • gob

      Twilight books and movies are terrible. They are shockingly bad to be so big. HP books and movies are much better.

      With that said, the hate T gets from Potterheads is humorous. It’s not like HP (much I love the books and movies) is any kind of masterpiece.

      There are dozens, hundreds of better movies that would deserve that top spot.

      • ak3

        compare to Twilight many books could be masterpieces.
        There is nothing attractive in stalkers.

      • Gloria

        I agree that there are plenty of movies better than the Harry Potter movies. However, the books? I have to disagree. Harry Potter is this generation’s classic and with good reason. The only reason why Twilight gets so much hate is because people insist on comparing the two, despite the fact that Twilight pales in comparison.

    • m1

      Thank you! It’s annoying to see “Twilight” on every Harry Potter article! If you hate it, why mention it all the time?

      And could HP fanboys yank the sticks out of their asses? Thanks.

    • andrea

      Because when I watch the MTV movies awards and crappy movies like twilight are winning over good movies like black swan, or even HP who have better reviews is kind of anoying

      • m1

        Who cares about the MTV movie awards?

  • Denise

    love the movies,they are awesome. all the haters stay away!

    • The Hypnotoad

      Neither you or Kik have any taste (movie wise anyway).

  • bob from binghamton

    No longer 100% on Rotten Tomatoes but the number is impressive nonetheless. This may be the first movie I see more than once in a theater since Cloverfield. Go Harry!

    • Dave

      But it does have 100% from the Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which someone above pointed out.

      • karen

        It does not. It had a 100% till some Australian critics from the same blog or magazine gave it a rotten, and not its 183 against 5 rotten.
        97%

      • Dave

        Karen, are you blind or something? Do you understand how to read my comment? Go back to Rotten Tomatoes to check, click on the Top Critics for HP, it has 100% – 38 fresh reviews and 0 rotten.

  • Anya

    Love the Harry Potter films. This is going to be bittersweet seeing this film. If I’m being honest based on the totals from the other Harry Potter films opening weekends, it seems more likely that this film will fall in the $140 million range for the weekend then $150 million. However, I still think it will break the midnight record and the opening day record.

    • Dave

      You may be right, but I think that a few of the Harry Potter films opened on Wednesdays if I remember correctly, which would mean that their first two days don’t get counted in their opening weekend gross. So it’s hard to compare.

  • Harry Potter movies are SO dumb…

    Am I the only person who cares about how DUMB this is? I mean, it’s about a boy holding a stick that shoots lighting and crap??? A movie about a boy magician…hahahahahhaha… Wow, Americans are DUMB…lining up to see this crap… *sigh*

    • Lyrak

      You are a sad little man if you think that that’s all the Harry Potter movies are.

      • gob

        Calm down he has a point. I own every movie and book. But to say the movies and books represent any kind of pathos is absurd.

        You don’t even get a good villain, but more of a Hitler retread. Harry himself is not that interesting. The chosen boy crap gets tiring.

        Really, the depth is in the contextual details, the imagination in presenting another world, not in the characters or narrative.

        Tell me, what is HP really about that is any different from good vs evil accounts? A boy with a stick….

      • @gob

        I will start by saying that I am not a crazy Harry Potter fan, but I do enjoy the story and the movies. However, you question of how is it different from any other good vs evil account – can’t that same question be asked of most films and books?

      • Diane

        @Gob: It’s about growing up. It’s about friendship and love in horrible times. It’s an imaginative way to remind us of the horror of the holocaust-a travesty that man inflicted on each other whose messages we’re far too likely to forget. It’s a story of finding the hero within oneself.

    • murley

      americans are so dumb? you realize it is a british film so i am not sure why you ridiculous insults are aimed at americans.

    • Dave

      Funny you say Americans are dumb when the books and movies are a WORLDWIDE phenomenon. It may even be more popular across the pond.

    • D

      Why are you here?

  • DAVID

    Just an opptomist, probably spelled wrong, but Harry Potter last installment will make $200 million. Easily.

    • jodipo

      it will make it worldwide for certain, but not opening weekend in the US alone.

  • chocolateislove

    The last Harry Potter movie was amazing and definitely deserves that top spot more than Twilight. Dark Knight can keep its throne as long as Twilight is no longer anywhere near it.

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