Final "Harry Potter" Set for a Magical Opening
Box office predictions for the weekend of July 15-17, 2011.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is perhaps the most anticipated film of the year (and possibly the decade) and is the only film to be released this summer that is all but guaranteed to gross $300 million (Paramount (VIA) and DreamWorks (DWA) Transformers: Dark of the Moon will reach this milestone but it was far from a guarantee). The last film in the series opened with $125.0 million (a franchise record) and went on to collect $294.6 million. The highest grossing film in the series remains the first installment, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which collected a total of $317.6 million.
The Harry Potter series is perhaps the only franchise in history that has never shown any signs of audience erosion. Sure, the third film The Prisoner of Azkaban grossed a series low of $249.5 million but it was also the first film in the series to have to deal with summer competition. Since then, every film has come within striking distance of $300 million. Although the last film in the series didn't quite make it to the $300 million mark, Part 2 should have no trouble at all crossing the triple century mark for a few reasons.
It is likely that Part 1 of Deathly Hallows tapered out before the $300 million mark because more casual fans of the series wanted to wait until Part 2 was out before seeing it. This time around, those casual fans of the series will more than likely be swept up in the excitement of the final film and see it in theaters. Deathly Hallows Part 2 will also be in 3D which will help goose the overall gross of the film. The film wasn't shot in 3D and instead was converted, but because it is the first and last time fans will get to see a Potter film in 3D (unless of course Warner Bros. decides to convert them all and re-release them), they will embrace the format and gladly pay the premium surcharge.
The film hasn't even been released yet and it is already breaking records. According to Variety, as of noon on Wednesday, the film has already grossed $32 million in pre-sales. The film is also launching in a record-breaking 3000 3D locations (4250 3D screens) and is also debuting on a record 274 IMAX (IMAX) screens nationwide. It remains to be seen whether Deathly Hallow Part 2 can best the opening weekend record established in 2008 by The Dark Knight ($158.4 million) or the opening day record set by The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72.7 million). Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be massively front-loaded so it is unlikely that Potter will be able to knock Batman off his throne, but it may very well eclipse New Moon. One thing seems very clear: Deathly Hallows Part 2 will probably be among the top five opening weekends of all time. Here's a look at the current Top 5.
Although there will be some competition from Transformers' third weekend and Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens in the weeks ahead, Potter's fans are very loyal. Whether they are interested in other films in the marketplace or not, they will most certainly be buying a ticket to what conceivably will be the movie event of the decade. Based on that and the 3D surcharges, Deathly Hallows Part 2 will most likely improve upon Part 1's opening by about 15%. Based on that logic, when it is all said and done, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will not only hold the series record for biggest opening, it will likely become the highest grossing film in the series. I expect the boy wizard to conjure up an opening of about $144 million.
The second new release for the weekend is Disney's animated Winnie the Pooh. We all know about Winnie and all his friends (Piglet, Roo, Owl, Eeyore, etc.) so to be honest there isn't all that much to say about this film. Winnie the Pooh is a timeless character that is loved by toddlers everywhere, but his reach doesn't extend past 5-year-olds. Any kids over that age will likely not be interested in seeing the film and would rather spend their time watching Sony's (SNE) Zookeeper or Cars 2.
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