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Weekend Predictions: Will Harry Potter Go Out on Top?

July 14th, 2011

This week is all about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, although I know at least a couple of people who are more interested in seeing Winnie the Pooh. Potter will dominate the box office in a way rarely seen and help boost overall box office substantially. In fact, there is a chance it will make more than the entire top ten did the same weekend last year. As long as it doesn't miss low end expectations, it should help give 2011 a much needed win.

The question is will the final installment of the Harry Potter open on top? And I don't mean will Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 open on top of the box office over the weekend? It will. I also don't mean will it have the best opening weekend of the franchise? Barring something unexpected, such as a horde of Dementors attacking theaters, it will beat Part 1's opening weekend number. I'm asking, will Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 top The Dark Knight's opening weekend record? At the beginning of the month, I wasn't giving much credence to those predictions, but two things have made me change my mind. Firstly, the film's reviews are Oscar-worthy and the best wide release of 2011 so far. Secondly, early ticket sales have been record-breaking. Some theaters added 3:00 am shows for Friday morning, and advance ticket sales for the weekend is nearing $50 million. At this point, $150 million is very likely, while $160 million is not out of the question. I'm going with a final prediction of $155 million, which is not quite enough for the record, but close enough that it won't be a shock if it gets there.

The competition for screen time will be intense and even if Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn't being thrown out of a lot of theaters this weekend, it will still be moved to smaller screens in most multiplexes. A 50% drop-off is quite likely, which would leave the film with just under $24 million over the weekend, but over $300 million after three. It is on pace to finish its run with $350 million - $360 million domestically, which is more than enough to ensure another installment. (The next one will feature a new director and a new cast, so hopefully won't suck.)

Horrible Bosses hopes its strong reviews and the more mature target demographic will result is a soft decline over the weekend. There are certainly reasons to be hopeful. Other R-rated comedies that have come out this year have shown better than average legs. Best case scenario has the film falling less than 40% during its sophomore stint and adding more than $17 million to its running tally. Worst case scenario has it falling just over 50% to just under $14 million. I think the reviews and the fact that its target audience doesn't overlap with Harry Potter too much will help it land on the higher end with $16 million.

On the other hand, Zookeeper has terrible reviews and families that have been going to see a talking animal film will instead be drawn to Harry Potter this weekend. Look for a drop-off of just over 50% to just under $10 million over the weekend.

The final wide release of the week is Winnie the Pooh, which is looking to attract families with kids too young to see Harry Potter, but that's a pretty slim target audience. It does have reviews that are Oscar-worthy in their own right and picking up one of the three Best Feature-Length Animated Film Oscar nominations is a distinct possibility at this point. Unfortunately, the reviews will likely not be enough for it to become a real hit. It has bombed in nearly every international market it has opened in, and it could have trouble matching previous films in the franchise. The consensus appear to be $8 million to $10 million during its opening, which is in line with original expectations, if just a little on the high side. It's a little higher thanks to the improved reviews, so it should open with $9 million over the weekend and closer to $30 million in total.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Zookeeper, Horrible Bosses, Winnie the Pooh