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Summer box office hits record $4.4 billion, but...

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The 2011 domestic summer box office earned a record $4.4 billion in the period between May 6 and Labor Day, improving by one percent on the $4.33 billion earned last year. Theoretically, this should be seen as a major victory for Hollywood — of course, they’re celebrating it as such — but savvy box office junkies know better than to simply believe the hype. The box office is not quite as healthy as that figure might suggest.  READ FULL STORY

Box office update: Final 'Harry Potter' film climbs to third place on the all-time worldwide chart

If it weren’t for that Muggle director James Cameron, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 would now be the highest-grossing movie ever at the worldwide box office. Instead, it’ll have to settle for third. Buoyed by a potent opening in China, Deathly Hallows passed The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on Sunday to land in third place on the all-time global chart. In 26 days, the final Potter entry has so far conjured an incredible $1.13 billion worldwide. However, it’s highly unlikely that Deathly Hallows will ever reach the James Cameron stratosphere that includes Avatar ($2.78 billion) and Titanic ($1.84 billion).

Read more:
‘Harry Potter’ passes ‘Star Wars’ to become the highest grossing franchise of all time
Box office report: ‘Harry Potter’ scores biggest opening weekend ever with $168.6 mil
‘Harry Potter’ scores the largest opening day ever with $92.1 mil

Box office update: 'The Smurfs' stuns 'Cowboys & Aliens' with $13.3 mil on Friday, and 'Potter' prepares to hit $1 billion worldwide

What the smurf is going on here? A clan of Belgian blue critters has stunned Hollywood, as The Smurfs led the box office on Friday with $13.3 million, according to early estimates. Sony’s $110 million live-action and animation hybrid, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Glee‘s Jayma Mays as a couple who take in six transplanted Smurfs, received horrific reviews. But that didn’t stop the PG-rated film, based on the famous Peyo comic strip and 1980s animated show, from topping what everyone thought was assured a first-place finish: Cowboys & Aliens. It’ll be a close finish, but The Smurfs should end the weekend victoriously with about $37 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Cowboys & Aliens' takes aim at 'The Smurfs' invasion

With the debt ceiling crisis still looming, this could be the final weekend before the entire American economy collapses in an explosion so magnificent that Michael Bay wouldn’t cut away from it for two whole seconds. Realizing that you may never have discretionary income again, Hollywood is offering three — three! — new major releases this weekend. One’s a genre mash-up whose title tells you exactly what to expect (Cowboys & Aliens), one is a TV-series adaptation whose title can be used as both a noun and a verb (The Smurfs), and one is a romantic comedy whose title, for reasons we may never know, contains two commas and a period (Crazy, Stupid, Love.). Here’s how I think the box office will stack up this weekend: READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Captain America' stands proud with $65.8 million; 'Harry Potter' plummets, still huge

This weekend, Captain America: The First Avenger was on a quest to avenge the disappointing box office results of recent superhero movies like X-Men: First Class and Green Lantern, and according to weekend estimates, it looks like Cappy has succeeded! The patriotic Paramount/Marvel tentpole earned a strong $65.8 million this weekend, bettering the opening of Thor, which hammered out $65.7 million during its debut in May. (Let’s wait for final numbers on Monday before we declare this the best superhero opening of the summer.) Captain America wasn’t a weakling in the per theater average department, either, as it found a terrific $17,719 at each of its 3,715 locations. Only 40 percent of the opening figure came from 3D screens, though—yet another low number for the format.

Audiences, which were 64 percent male, liked the film quite a bit, issuing Captain a nice “A-” Cinemascore grade (comparatively, Thor and X-Men: First Class both earned a “B+”, while Green Lantern earned a “B”), and the positive reception should help the $140 million action film stick around at the box office. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Captain America' soars into first place with $25.7 million on Friday

Captain America: The First Avenger is starting off stronger than anyone (self-included) expected. According to estimates, the patriotic Marvel superhero film grossed a tremendous $25.7 million on Friday, with $4 million of that coming from midnight screenings. Captain America‘s impressive Friday gross puts it well ahead of the first-day totals for X-Men: First Class ($21.4 million) and Green Lantern ($21.4 million), and just a touch above Thor‘s first Friday ($25.5 million) as well. Thus, Cappy should earn a figure in the same range as Thor‘s opening, grossing around $66 million this weekend.

In second place, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 plummeted 84% from last weekend’s record-breaking Friday to $14.6 million. Given the up-front excitement and huge numbers for Harry Potter last weekend, this drop doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Still, the magical fantasy should stabilize some over the rest of the weekend and finish with about $49 million by Sunday.

Friends With Benefits nabbed the third place spot with a solid $6.8 million. The Mila Kunis/Justin Timberlake comedy earned about 6 percent less than the $7.2 million that No Strings Attached made on its first Friday in January. Sunday grosses are typically stronger in the summer since kids are out of school and people are on vacation, so I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Benefits edged out Strings by the end of the frame, but right now, Friends With Benefits looks to be headed to a $19 million weekend.

Horrible Bosses continued to exhibit some strong legs at the box office, declining just 33 percent from last Friday to $3.7 million. The revenge comedy should pick up another $12 million this weekend, good for fourth place. In fifth will be Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which earned $3.5 million on Friday and will likely find just over $11 million.

Check back tomorrow for the full weekend report, and follow me on Twitter (@BoxOfficeJunkie) for up-to-the-minute box office news!

Box office preview: 'Captain America' aims to shoot down 'Harry Potter' this weekend

I wouldn’t want to be the superhero that has to go up against Harry Potter – not even Voldemort could handle that kid — but Captain America: The First Avenger will do his very best to take down the wizard at the box office this weekend, and it should be a very close race. Given its huge opening last weekend, Potter is guaranteed a major drop this time around, but it still has a solid shot at number one. Captain America, meanwhile, is battling a trend of diminishing returns that have plagued superhero movies this summer. Also opening is the raunchy rom-com Friends With Benefits, which hopes to continue the recent hot streak R-rated comedies have enjoyed. Who will succeed and who will fail? Take a look at my box office predictions below.  READ FULL STORY

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

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. READ FULL STORY

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2' breaks IMAX box office records

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Alright, Harry, now it’s just getting ridiculous. Don’t you have enough records already?!

In case you haven’t heard (but let’s be honest, you have), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 has been breaking box office records left and right. The final film in the magical series now holds the title for highest midnight gross ($43.5 million), highest single day gross ($92 million, on Friday), highest domestic opening weekend ($169.2 million), and highest global opening weekend ($478.2 million). All told, the film has earned a remarkable $542.5 million worldwide in just four days.

But the superlatives aren’t stopping there. Now, Deathly Hallows — Part 2 can add one more record to its already impressive list: highest IMAX opening weekend. According to the giant screen distributor, the Potter film grossed a tremendous $15.2 million from domestic IMAX showings this weekend for a sizzling $55,000 per theater average. Internationally, the film picked up another $8 million on IMAX screens, giving it $23.2 million worldwide. That puts it just ahead of fellow 3-D blockbuster Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which pulled in $23.1 million from IMAX screenings around the world over its five-day launch.

Further reading:
Box office report: ‘Harry Potter’ scores biggest opening weekend ever with $168.6 mil
‘Harry Potter’ scores the largest opening day ever with $92.1 mil
‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2′ conjures up a record-breaking $43.5 million at midnight showings

Follow Grady on Twitter: @BoxOfficeJunkie

'Harry Potter' withdrawal: Will fans feel post-'Potter' pain?

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Image Credit: Peter Mountain

Anyone who attended any of the
record-breaking screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 this past weekend can attest that the echoes of weeping fans often rivaled the theaters' booming sound systems. And while there's no doubt that the tears flowed early and often because of hanky-worthy moments -- such as (SPOILER ALERT!) Harry accepting his fate to die and Ron mourning the loss of Fred after the gruesome battle at Hogwarts -- it's also fair to say that many Potter fanatics found themselves crying for an entirely different reason: This was the moment in which they were letting go of Harry, and his beloved series, for good. "I don't think I've fully come to terms with the fact that the series is now officially over," says 19-year-old Evan Dalton, an avid West Virginia-based Harry Potter fan who has plans to see Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 for a third time. "It couldn't have ended in any other more perfect way, but it is just hard to think that there won't be any more [movies]

. It means so much to all of us fans because it has been a part of our lives for so long.”

Indeed, the boy who lived had existed in fans’ hearts for 10 years — 13 if you include the U.S. publication of J.K. Rowling’s beloved books. And for the better part of the past decade, fans even more fervent than Dalton have devoured every Harry Potter film and novel, going as far as to develop an intense, addiction-like attachment to the saga. READ FULL STORY

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