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Will Harry Potter Eat Up the Competition?

November 24th, 2010

Its the Thanksgiving long weekend and the official start of the winter holiday blockbuster season. While there are four wide releases making their debut tonight, it will likely be a holdover, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, that wins the box office race. Such was the case last year when New Moon repeated on top. It will be interesting to see whether or not Harry Potter will have stronger legs, whether or not the new releases get off to faster starts, and whether or not the overall box office is better.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I broke records for the franchise last weekend, and by the end of this weekend it could be within striking distance of The Prisoner of Azkaban's domestic final. On the positive side, the film has very good reviews, although a little weaker than they were this time last week. On the other hand, it does have to deal with somewhat direct competition, and more importantly, the Fanboy Effect. New Moon plummeted almost 70% last year; we'll call that the worst case scenario. On the other hand, The Goblet of Fire fell 47% to close to $55 million; we'll call that the best case scenario. Using those two percentages, we get a range of $37.5 million to $66 million for a sophomore stint. I have a hard time believing this film will earn less than The Goblet of Fire earned at the box office in terms of raw dollars, after getting off to a $20 million faster start. But it is also just as clear it will have weaker legs. I'm going with $57 million over the weekend, plus about half that from Wednesday and Thursday, for a total Thanksgiving weekend haul of $85 million and a running tally of $229 million.

Tangled is the only new release with even a hope of catching Harry Potter over the weekend, and even then it only has a faint hope. That's not to say it is going to bomb, or that it is a bad movie. In fact, it is earning reviews that suggest it will pick up an Oscar nomination for Best Feature-Length Animated film. On the other hand, it is a kids film with a strong female lead, and those have been hard to sell at the box office. It could have a very similar run to Enchanted, which opened with $34 / $49 million a few years ago. However, this movie does have an advantage when it comes to 3D ticket prices, so I'm going with a prediction of just over $40 million over three days, and just under $60 million in total. That should be more than enough to keep the studio happy. In fact, $30 / $45 million would likely also be enough, depending on how well it does internationally and on the home market.

There will likely be a rather close four way battle for third place with MegaMind holding a strong, but not insurmountable advantage. It does have a lot of competition, but third place with just over $13 million / just under $20 million should be obtainable.

We finally get to the second wide release of the week, which will likely be... excuse me while I flip a coin. ... And the coin landed in the trash. Huh... Burlesque. Third place will go to Burlesque. The film does have some legitimate advantages, including a theater count that is over 3000, plus reviews that are better than expected. A lot of people, me included, were worried this film would be Showgirls level bad, but apparently a lot of critics are saying its kind of fun. Maybe not particularly good, but entertaining in a campy way. Others are just calling it dull. Even so, it is enough to suggest a change at third place with $14 / $21 million, but it will likely just miss that mark with just under $13 million over the weekend and just over $19 million in total. It will likely perform better on Wednesday, but sink as the weekend goes along.

The next two films, Faster and Love and Other Drugs, could be so close that they too flip places. Faster will likely get off to the faster start as teenagers rush out to see Dwayne Johnson return to his action roots. Additionally, for the genre, 42% positive is a rather good Tomatometer score. On the other hand, Dwayne Johnson has actually had more box office success in family friendly movies than he has in more adult oriented action films. This film is most similar to Walking Tall, which opened with $15.5 million back in 2004. This film should top that, but only over the five-day weekend, while ticket price inflation means that number is even less impressive. Look for close to $7 million over the next two days, but just over $10 million over the weekend, for a $17 million total opening.

Love and Other Drugs is also earning 42% positive reviews, but expectations were a lot higher. In fact, there was some Awards Season buzz at the beginning of the month. That buzz has likely all but evaporated by now. Perhaps if it outperforms expectations at the box office, some people will overlook the overall problems and concentrate of the excellent performances of the two leads, but that is unlikely. It will likely earn fifth place over the weekend with $11 million, but start slower with $5 million on Wednesday and Thursday, for a $16 million total opening.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Tangled, Burlesque, Faster, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, Love and Other Drugs, Megamind