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Harry Potter and the Record Book

November 18th, 2010

The Harry Potter franchise is almost done and records will be broken over the weekend. In fact, at least one record was broken last night, as The Deathly Hallows: Part I had the largest midnight showing ever and it also has the widest IMAX release this weekend. On the down side, this time last year was also a record-breaking weekend, with New Moon earning top spot for biggest November weekend, so it might be impossible for 2010 to keep pace with 2009 over the next three days.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. I've joked in the past that just mentioning the name is practically all of the analysis one needs to give at this point. However, there are some interesting additions this time around. For instance, this is the first time since Goblet of Fire that the franchise is opening on a Friday. As such, its opening weekend box office should be the highest in the franchise, a record currently held by Goblet of Fire. It could also become the fastest opening film of the year, overtaking Iron Man 2. Pie in the sky, it could help the franchise retake the record for November opening back from New Moon. (At one time the franchise owned the biggest opening weekend of all time, but I'm not going to entertain the possibility that it will break The Dark Knight's record in that regard.) So far its reviews are 82% positive, which would normally be amazing for a wide release, but as incredible as it seems, that makes it just average for the franchise. It is an impressive feat for a franchise to last seven installments and still earn strong praise from most critics. Not merely impressive, but unprecedented. (Although James Bond comes close.) And with Thanksgiving long weekend next week, the film could have good legs as well. Look for $130 million this weekend, which is a little more bullish that most, but certainly within the high end of expectations. (Anything less than $110 million would be a shock, while anything more than $140 million will also be a surprise.) In the end, it should finally snap The Philosopher's Stone's record for the franchise, and it might even be the second best release of 2010, earning close to $350 million in total.

While there won't be a record gap between the first and second place films this weekend, there will likely be a massive drop-off of $100 million or more. MegaMind will be hurt by the more or less direct competition and even a modest drop-off of 40% from last weekend would leave it with just $17.5 million this weekend. If Deathly Hallows: Part I earns less than $117.5 million at the box office, I would be surprised. On the other hand, even a 60% drop-off would leave MegaMind with close to $12 million, which would be more than enough to lift its running tally past $100 million after just three weeks of release. I think the high end is much more likely than the low end and I'm going with a prediction of $16 million over the weekend and $110 million after three.

Unstoppable also has more or less direct competition to deal with. Fortunately for this film, that competition is The Next Three Days, which hasn't been generating a whole lot of buzz, good or bad. With Denzel Washington's track record of better than average holds, it should avoid a 50% drop-off, while a 40% drop-off is probably too optimistic. Look for $12.5 million over the weekend and $42 million after two. Given its price tag, one has to assume the studio was hoping for more.

The second wide release of the weekend is The Next Three Days, which stars Russell Crowe as a husband trying to break his wife out of prison after she was wrongfully convicted. The film's reviews are neither good nor bad; in fact, they are almost split perfectly down the middle at the moment. Crowe is coming off his biggest hit in five years, and I don't think it should open that much weaker than Unstoppable did last weekend. But, it appears it won't even top Unstoppable this weekend. Look for an opening of $10 million, plus or minus $1 million.

Due Date should round out the top five with just over $8 million during the weekend for a total of just over $70 million after three.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Due Date, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, Unstoppable, The Next Three Days, Megamind