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Casting a Spell on Audiences

November 18th, 2005

For the first time since Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith opened, there is a monster hit awaiting moviegoers at the box office. And while it is very unlikely that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will have a better opening, it should still reinvigorate the box office and pull 2005 out of this slump.

The odds of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire not finishing first over the weekend are negligible to non-existent, but the real competition for the film is not the rest of the films playing in theatres this weekend, or even those playing this weekend last year, it is the rest of the films in the Harry Potter franchise.

Philosopher's Stone 79% positive $90,294,621
Chamber of Secrets 82% positive $88,357,488
Prisoner of Azkaban 89% positive $93,687,367
Goblet of Fire 89% positive $100,000,000

As you can see from the above table, the reviews for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire are on par with Prisoner of Azkaban's, which puts it in a virtual tie for best in the franchise. Its opening weekend, on the other hand, should become the best of the bunch by a significant margin, hitting that rare $100 million mark. That won't be enough to break major records, but ones like Biggest November Weekend and Biggest November Day should fall, and it could tie Fastest to $100 million if it meets or beats expectations. It also has an outside shot at becoming the biggest opening of the year, and an even smaller shot at Biggest Opening Weekend of all time. (But I would rate that last one at maybe 1%.)

There's more than one wide release this weekend, and since its target audience doesn't overlap with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it should do quite well at the box office. Nobody expects Walk the Line to top the box office charts, but the real question is whether or not it can top Ray's debut from last year. So far its reviews are just a tad behind what Ray earned, but it is opening in nearly 1,000 more theatres. On the other hand, Ray's competition was much, much weaker. I think all of these various factors will balance out, leaving the film with $20 million, which is a nearly identical result.

The first holdover of the weekend is Chicken Little, which showed amazing legs last weekend, but that should change this weekend. A 50% drop-off in the face of a juggernaut like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is still great, and the $16 million the film will bring in this weekend will push its total box office past the $100 million milestone.

Zathura is also likely to take a beating this weekend, and will do so from the same reason as the previous film. Significantly better reviews might keep it from losing 50%, but a steep drop-off to $7 million looks to be in its future.

The race for fifth place should be won by Derailed with $6.5 million, but this is a case of winning by default.


Filed under: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chicken Little, Walk the Line, Derailed, Zathura