'Harry Potter' passes 'Star Wars' to become the highest grossing franchise of all time


Image Credit: Jaap Buitendijk

Thanks to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2‘s phenomenal box-office start, the Harry Potter franchise officially became the top-grossing franchise in domestic box office history on Wednesday.

The magical finale has already grossed $214.9 million in six days, pushing the cumulative total for all eight Potter films to a truly impressive $2.223 billion. That figure just edges out the cume for the Star Wars franchise, which earned $2.217 billion from its releases. Currently, these are the only two film franchises to surpass $2 billion at the box office.

But before everyone in the comments starts screaming, “INFLATION!” let’s clear up any ambiguity. Star Wars remains the most attended franchise in domestic box office history, as it has sold over twice as many tickets as Harry Potter. I’m talking about dollars here. Still, that shouldn’t take anything away from Potter‘s box office achievements — the wizard has proven a true box office star over the past decade, and $2.223 billion is a pretty unbelievable figure.

The next two franchises on pace to cross the $2 billion mark? James Bond ($1.6 billion) and Batman ($1.5 billion).

Follow Grady on Twitter: @BoxOfficeJunkie

Comments (67 total) Add your comment
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  • Ryan


    just kidding. Good for HP!

    • stan

      That’s not too shocking, considering there are more people with access to books, TV, and the internet than when Star Wars came out…

      • wow.

        pretty sure he specifically said this was only box office ….

      • wolfkin

        yes the numbers only reflect the box office but the fact that youhad years of the books being the most popular things since the beetles beforehand helped Harry Potter out big time. Star Wars was a complete unknown when it premiered.

        Plus popularity now means something different than then. Now you can spread the word about Harry Potter with the internet, on TV, etc. Back when Star Wars Premiered there was no trending topic to promote it.

    • Miranda


  • Julius


  • JPX

    Not really a fair comparison given that there are more films in the Potter franchise. If Lucas made one more Star Wars film Star Wars would be right back at the top again.

    • Robert Taylor

      Oh silly JPX, don’t you remember the Christmas Special?

      • Michael M.

        @Robert you win the prize for mentioning the Christmas Special! lol

      • JPX

        Haha! I have a bootleg of it and I’ve never been able to get through it – dreadful stuff!

      • MC

        Um, are they counting “The Clone Wars” as part of the Star Wars franchise?

    • Mike

      Well, it’s not like it’s a competition!! lol But it is still a record that was broken so it must be reported. Franchise is a franchise…doesn’t matter how many films there are. All it says is that both franchises have been immensely successful.

    • Meg

      Blame Jar-Jar for the lack of a 7th Star Wars.

      • Will

        I blame Hayden Christensen

    • LA

      But the earlier/actually good Star Wars have been out for decades and have been continued to be shown in theaters, so they have an advantage there.

    • Dave

      There’s only one more Potter film than there are Star Wars films (don’t forget to count that animated Star Wars movie that came out a couple years ago). So that’s 8 Potter films, and 7 Star Wars films. On top of that, the first 3 Star Wars film were all re-released in theaters in the mid-to-late 90s, which boosted the franchise’s box office.

      • JPX

        The animated film doesn’t count – it was just 2 episodes of the TV series strung together. There would have to be a cartoon version of Harry Potter to make this comparison (not a bad idea, actually).

    • Jeremy

      It’s a little more fair when you consider that all three of the original Star Wars films were released in theaters at least twice (original runs, plus special edition theatrical releases in the 90’s/00’s). Plus, the Star Wars films are about to be re-released to theaters in 3D beginning next year. Star Wars will be back on top in $$s. Still, it’s a huge milestone accomplishment to pass the $2 billion mark.

  • Ryan

    It all depends then on the 3D releases then.

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Still, SW > HP by far!

    • Jerry

      I’d agree if it weren’t for the prequels.

      Those prequels killed Star Wars for me.

    • Liz Lemon

      Really though? I’ve tried to watch Star Wars, but I couldn’t get pass the awesome opening credits.
      But to each it’s own.

    • Dave

      Maybe, but there are only 3, maybe 4 good Star Wars movies. There are at least 5 good Potter movies. And none of the Potter films are truly awful, which can’t be said about Star Wars.

      • Dave

        Though I probably should add that the best Star Wars movie is better than the best Potter movie.

      • Caleb

        Except there isn’t a single good Harry Potter movie. Game over.

  • Richard Cheese

    Too all seven HP films still can’t hold a candle to SW:ANH.

    • Mike

      Just for clarification, there are 8 HP films!

  • Twist

    Wow!Both are great!

  • Kelsey

    I imagine that they cancel each other out. Harry Potter benefits from inflation and more films, while the original Star Wars trilogy was rereleased in 1997, was it not? I think that probably helped each film quite a bit; I remember seeing all three of them in anticipation of Phantom Menace.
    And the sheer awesomeness of the original trilogy combined with the sheer awfulness of the new one means that, quality-wise, they’re roughly about the same, too.

    • Kelsey

      According to Box Office Mojo, here’s roughly what each film did in 1997:
      1. Star Wars: $138 million ($15 million in ’82 reissue)
      2. The Empire Strikes Back: $67 million ($13 million in ’82 reissue)
      3. Return of the Jedi: $45 million ($11 million in ’85 reissue)
      As you can see, each of the three original films benefitted noticeably from re-releases.

  • Liz Lemon

    Wasn’t this already established?
    Hopefully it will stay on top for awhile.
    I guess if they make another 4 Pirates of the Caribbeans, it could give Potter a run for it’s money.

    • Kelsey

      HP has been #1 worldwide for a while now (since HBP, I think?). This is for the DOMESTIC title.

    • wolfkin

      Pirates (which fell off after the first great movie) is that doing numbers still? I remember 2 doing monumental numbers like gangbusters but I didn’t think 3 did as well and I’m wondering if 4 performed decently.

  • etp

    Well, seeing that HP has 2 more movies in that franchise, it does give an edge over Star Wars. Plus inflation works in HP’s favor.

    But Star Wars is more historical significant than Harry Potter- on every level.

    • Dave

      HP only has one more film than Star Wars. You’re forgetting the animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

      • JPX

        The animated film doesn’t count and is not considered part of the film series – however, even if it was, Potter still has one more film than the Star Wars series so it isn’t fair to make the comparison. If Lucas made another Star Wars film Star Wars would be on top in an instant (don’t get me wrong, I love the Potter films, I just like a good nerd argument)

      • MC

        And James bond has like 22 films, but it’s still compared to other franchises.

    • Jeremy

      Don’t forget that the original SW trilogy was re-released in the 90’s (and also in the mid-80’s if I remember correctly). So it’s kinda like having 12 movies plus the Clone Wars movies.

    • Harry Potter 4 Life

      In what way does star wars have more historical significance. Harry could defeat luke in 2 seconds and voldermort is a way more complex villian then vader ever was. Tom Riddle was always evil and he was always smart and cunning. Anakins story is the typical “he lost his wife so he has no choice but to be evil” that is LAME. Also JK Rowling is way more rich than George and she inspired a generation of kids myself included to read.

      • Trent Reznor

        I actually agree that JK Rowling wrote a richer story than Lucas did (seeing how he just gave up on the prequels and paid more attention to special effects), but your reasoning why SW doesn’t have enough historical significance is really flawed. There wouldn’t be HP without Star Wars. Lucas, back then, wrote the most compelling hero’s journey combining sci-fi space opera and classical epics to create his original trilogy.

        And Anakin Skywalker’s story, while completely ruined by Nick Carter’s acting (I know it’s not Nick Carter, the dude just looks like a boy band singer), was actually more complex and tragic than Voldemort’s story. The one great thing Lucas did was give Anakin a good reason to turn to the dark side instead of the usual temptation of power that most villains fall under.

        I hate to compare the two because I do like Harry Potter and I think the overall story is better than the entire Star Wars saga (if you include the prequels), but there’s no argument that Star Wars has more historical significance.

  • Jay

    Too bad they cant tally up merchandise (video games, toys, Theme parks, etc.) to see which franchise wins overall.

  • ?????

    Batman won’t do it. It would need the Dark Knight Rises and another film to cross 2 Bill

    • Bat-phanatic

      They specifically talk about Batman’s domestic gross, which it only needs a little more than $500 mil. With the hype of TDKR, that isn’t impossible to believe it could happen.

  • Harry Potter 4 Life

    And that’s how its done bitches. people can scream inflation but the book series is the best selling series ever made and JK Rowling the richest author ever. She deserves every penny in my opinion. If i recall Star wars also has a few books laying around. But the story is for simpletons. JK Rowling planned her novels for years. There are no plot holes. Harry potter 4 ever!!

    • Patrick Quinn

      Best book series ever? That’s HIGHLY debatable. LOTR series, starting with the Hobbit? Animorphs? Enders Game?

  • Toby

    Avatar will blow everything out of the water with its sequels, although I wish it was not the case! :)

  • Trent Reznor

    We can atleast say that there’s been better HP and SW movies than Batman movies. (Well, Batman Returns was atleast watchable).

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