In November 2001 the boy wizard had his big screen debut with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in the US), a smashing box office success that set the highest opening weekend record at the time and went on to gross $974.7 million worldwide, something no other movie in the series has managed.
This July Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the 8th entry in the long running series, is going for the North American opening weekend record that has been in the hands of The Dark Knight for a good 3 years. Warner is really pushing for this and the magic number to beat is $158.4 million. Is Potter up to the task?
Unfortunately, even with the higher priced 3D tickets, Potter might not be all the way up to the task and Warner will have to settle for a bit less, probably $145 million, just under The Dark Knight ($158.4M) and Spider-Man 3 ($151.1M). You can’t really blame Warner if Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 won’t beat that record since they have been pulling all the stops, 4375 theaters, over 11,000 screens not to mention the biggest 3D release ever in more then 3000 locations. Either way Potter will take the worldwide opening weekend record and won’t have much problem going past Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the billion mark.
The only other question is how high can it finish in North America at the end of the year, where Transformers: Dark of the Moon is set to go over $360 million when all is said and done, a figure not easily accessible for Mr. Potter. But hey, if Deathly Hallows Part 2 can grab that record and finish the year ahead of Transformers, then I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong (and happy to do so). Reviews are the best we’ve ever seen for the series (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) and it would be a fitting end if Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 would finish first at the end of the year in both North America and the rest of the world.
Speaking of Transformers, Dark of the Moon is set to finish in 2nd place with probably around $24 million for a 19th days grand total of $305 million, not to shabby. At that point the Michael Bay robot spectacle will be close to $800 million worldwide.
Horrible Bosses should be a strong 3rd place with $14 million for over $57 million in 10 days. Winnie the Pooh, the other new release of the weekend, is going one on one with The Zookeeper for 4th place,both aiming for $10-11 million. Winnie the Pooh is opening in 2405 theaters without much in the way of advertising from Disney. What once looked like a return to form for the Bear, has become simple yet effective counterprogramming to the dark Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, a movie definitely not suitable for very young children.
Next week Captain America: The First Avenger is a superhero you might want to keep your eyes on while Friends With Benefits is… another R-rated comedy?