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Weekend Wrap-Up: Harry Potter Breathes Life Into the Box Office

July 19th, 2011

After a weak start, 2011 started to improve in late April. However, by June it had all fallen apart again and it looked like the summer of 2011 would be even worse than the summer of 2010, which was the worst summer in a decade. Thank goodness Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 came along. That film made more than the entire box office did last weekend and came within $10 million of doing the same in comparison to last year. It helped the overall box office reach $262 million, or 68% more than last weekend and 47% more than the same weekend last year. 2011 is still off 2010's pace by more than 7% at $5.85 billion to $6.30 million, but at least there's some hope for the near future.

How many records did Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 break during its opening weekend? Just looking at the big ones, biggest midnight showings, biggest day, biggest weekend, and it tied for fastest to $100 million. It's opening weekend total of $169.19 million makes it the sixth biggest hit of the year, already overtaking Cars 2 as of Sunday and after Monday it will be ahead of Thor. By the weekend it will become just the fifth film of 2011 to reach the $200 million mark, and by this time next weekend it will be challenging Transformers: Dark of the Moon for top spot for the year. With a start like this, legs are a bit of an issue. After all, there are few films that have a higher Fanboy / Fangirl following than the Harry Potter movies. That said, since it is the last film, there's a chance people will be watching this one over and over again, as it will be their last chance to see the film on the big screen (barring a re-release later on). Also, given the reviews it could have good legs despite the Fanboy Effect. $300 million is practically guaranteed, perhaps in record speed, while $400 million is not entirely out of the question.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 wasn't the only film in theaters, although the record for largest gap between the first and second place film was broken this weekend. (At least in terms of raw dollars. If you go by percentage, I think the opening weekend of Spider-man 3 holds that record.) Transformers: Dark of the Moon was well back in second place, but with a still hefty weekend total of $21.33 million. The healthier than expected competition did have an effect, but the film did become the first of 2011 to reach $300 million and its running tally hit $302.88 million. The only downside here is its productin budget and global P&A budget probably cost about that much. Buut since it has already made more internationally than it has domestically, it is a money winner for the studio.

Horrible Bosses had the best hold in the top five (and the second best in the top ten) down just 37% to $17.78 million over the weekend. With $60.15 million after just ten days of release, reviews that are in-between good and great, and a target demographic that has been very reliable this year in rewarding films after their opening weekend, this film is on pace to hit $100 million. Granted, it does have somewhat direct competition this weekend, but I think it will still hit the century mark before too long.

Zookeeper also held up much better than expected down less than 40% to $12.33 million over the weekend for a total of $42.38 million after two. On the other hand, its reviews are beyond redemption, its international potential is very limited, and it was a costly film to make, so it could end up costing the studio money.

Cars 2 spent one more weekend in the top five with $8.41 million over the past three days giving the film a total of $165.39 million after four weeks of release. As a result, A Bug's Life will remain Pixar's weakest box office performer, at least in terms of raw dollars. However, Cars 2 will become the studio's first film to fail to match its production budget domestically. On the other hand, it might sell more than $200 million in merchandising.

The final wide release of the week was Winnie the Pooh, which only managed to earn $7.86 million during its opening weekend of release. Granted, the competition was obviously intense, but I was still hoping for a lot more than this. It had the second best reviews of any wide release this year, tied with Source Code. The only wide release with better reviews is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, which just further emphasizes how this release was badly timed. Hopefully it will perform much better on the home market and maybe in a few years it will be seen as a classic and won't be a forgotten gem.


Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Zookeeper, Cars 2, Friends with Benefits, Horrible Bosses, Winnie the Pooh