The time has come. After holding on to the all-time opening weekend record for exactly three years and defending it against the likes of Iron Man 2 and New Moon, The Dark Knight at last has to hand over the glory to another Warner Bros. film - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The final instalment of the epic fantasy saga (and the first one to hit the screens in 3D) opened to $168.6 million from 4,375 theatres, easily beating The Dark Knight’s $158.4 million start and delivering a stunning per-theatre-average (PTA) of $38,526. The only thing that puts this opening record into perspective is that fact that this number was boosted by the higher prices for 3D tickets (which made up 43% of the film’s opening) and inflation. Admissions-wise the film was well behind The Dark Knight and other record openers like Spider-Man and Spider-Man 3.
That said, nothing can take away from the fact that it’s a simply astonishing opening, besting the series’ previous high of $125 million (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1) by almost 35%. The film kicked off the weekend with the record $43.5 million from midnight showings alone and added another $48.6 million during the day on Friday for the biggest opening day ever, accumulating $92.1 million in just a single day, a number unheard of till now. The rest of the weekend didn’t play out this spectacularly as the movie dropped 53.5% on Saturday to $42.9 million, giving it “only” the 9th-biggest Saturday ever. Nevertheless, its Friday was big enough to ensure it’d break the all-time opening weekend record – and it did. Moreover, its PTA is the 2nd-highest ever for a wide release, only behind Hannah Montana’s 3D concert movie.
What’s particularly amazing (and especially fitting) is that it made more in its opening day than the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone made in its then-record opening weekend back in 2001. It’s fitting that the only Harry Potter movies to post opening weekend records are the first and the last one. Sorcerer’s Stone lost its record to Spider-Man in 2002 and it seems very likely that Deathly Hallows – Part 2 will also lose it to a comic book adaptation – next year’s The Dark Knight Rises. That’ll likely give WB the three biggest opening weekends of all time.
So the question is now: where will it go from now on? Even before the film’s release it was a foregone conclusion that the flick would inevitably become the third Harry Potter film (of eight) to cross $300 million and likely pass Sorcerer’s Stone’s series’ high of $317.6 million. But very few thought it’d happen as fast as it probably will now. The opening weekend has shown a great deal of frontloading which was to be expected given the increasing overall frontloading of the franchise. Last year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 couldn’t even muster an opening-to-total multiplier of 2.4 despite opening in the usually kind holiday season. While Part 2 won’t have holidays to help its grosses, it will have huge summer weekdays to make up for what it’ll lose in holiday boosts. What will also help is that the film is now guaranteed to keep its IMAX screens (on which it posted record numbers as well, making over $15 million this weekend) for at least four weeks. Moreover, glowing reviews and likely multiple viewings due to this being the final film of the series might offset a little of the frontloading. Nevertheless, a multiplier above 2.5 seems unlikely, though $350 million shouldn’t be much of a stretch to top. Domestically it’ll safely secure itself a spot in the all-time Top 20. The real question is whether it’ll be able to top the current fantasy top-grosser, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Right now I am inclined to believe that it is more likely than not, though by no means a lock yet. The competition in the upcoming weeks will be tough as it’ll face the 3D releases of Captain America and The Smurfs. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 should find its way to a formidable total gross of $370-390 million.
While Harry Potter is deservingly the huge story of the weekend, it needs to be noted that Transformers: Dark of the Moon, this weekend’s #2 film, finally became the first movie of 2011 to cross $300 million at the domestic box-office. As expected, Potter’s onslaught hit it hard as the film dropped 54.9% in its third frame for a weekend gross of $21.3 million and a running total of $302.8 million, making it 37th movie to pass $300 million in North America. The currently all-time #35 movie got off to a rather slow-ish start at the domestic box-office, but rebounded well and is now tied with Spider-Man 2 as the 8th-fastest movie ever to reach $300 million, a feat it accomplished in 19 days. For comparison, its direct predecessor, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen took 14 days to manage the feat, whereas the first film made it in 39 days. It is now tracking around $36 million behind the second film, after a lower third weekend, though it needs to be mentioned that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen didn’t face Harry Potter until its fourth weekend. The consecutive releases of two youth-aiming action blockbusters – Captain America and Cowboys & Aliens – will certainly take their toll on Transformers in the upcoming weeks, so I don’t see much rebounding there for the time being. I also don’t see it putting up much of a fight for the top spot of the year which should now be easily secured by Harry Potter. Nonetheless, the film’s on course towards a terrific total of $350-360 million which is certainly more than its disappointing opening day has suggested and prevents it from being a Shrek Forever After-like disappointment.
Horrible Bosses held its own very well this weekend, benefiting partially from good word-of-mouth and partially from a likely studio bump from Warner Bros. in the wake of Harry Potter’s release. The ensemble comedy took in $17.6 million in its sophomore weekend, easing only 37.7%, dropping one spot to #3 and bringing its total gross to $60 million after ten days in release. That puts it on par with Bad Teacher’s 10-days total despite a smaller opening and goes on to show the strength of R-rated comedies this summer. May alone gave us two $160+ million R-rated comedy behemoths with The Hangover: Part II and Bridesmaids, whereas June saw the $30+ million opening of Bad Teacher. Now Horrible Bosses follows suit with a solid opening and good legs. Not even R-rated competition all summer long seems to stop these movies as audiences are clearly in the mood for raunchy entertainment. Next weekend will see the release of Friends with Benefits, an R-rated romcom starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in what seems to be another take on the topics already tackled by No Strings Attached earlier this year (which starred Kunis’ Black Swan co-star Natalie Portman). Two weeks later the body-switching comedy The Change-Up starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds will hit the theatres and a week later Zombieland’s director Ruben Fleischer will bring us the R-rated action comedy 30 Minutes or Less. The market is pretty crowded with this sort of flicks and yet they all seem to be doing well so far. I don’t see that changing for Horrible Bosses anytime soon as the film’s interesting premise coupled with its good WoM will continue to draw in audiences in the upcoming weeks, making it another comedy breakout this summer. It’ll end up with around $120-125 million in the bank, a splendid amount for an R-rated comedy in a summer like this.
Likely taking advantage of spillover business, Zookeeper managed to drop only 38.7% to the 4th spot of the box-office and a weekend take of $12.3 million. That’s quite impressive considering the enormous competition it has faced. Its current total stands at an unimpressive $42.4 million after ten days. The Kevin James talking-animals comedy got off to a rather disappointing start last weekend, but it looks like it will stick around for a while and finish in the vicinity of $80 million, giving it great legs. Looks like it won’t be a real dud for Sony afterall.
Once again failing to recover from its bad drops, Cars 2 lost another position at the charts, decreasing 45.1% for a weekend take of $8.3 million and a running total of $165.3 million. While it is now the highest-grossing animated film of 2011, its run has been rather disappointing so far. The poorly reviewed Pixar film is now tracking exactly on par with Ratatouille, but coming off a smaller weekend. It is almost $14 million behind Kung Fu Panda and over $17 million behind WALL-E. $200 million can be ruled out for it which makes it the lowest-grossing Pixar film in over a decade and that unadjusted. In fact, it might even end up below the original Toy Story outgrossing only A Bug’s Life of all Pixar films. I’m projecting $190 million for its finish. That is, of course, still a splendid number for an animated film, especially this year. For Pixar, however, the number should be a painful reminder that audiences still care for quality.
Another Buena Vista release occupies the 6th spot of the box-office this weekend as the only other wide opener, Winnie the Pooh, made $8 million from 2,405 locations for a PTA of $3,326. Releasing it against Harry Potter probably wasn’t the smartest idea, however given its performance in several overseas markets so far, a different release date wouldn’t have added much. It did, at least, open higher than the likes of Pooh’s Heffalump and Piglet’s Big Movie. That is a pity given how well-reviewed this nostalgic throwback was. Winnie Pooh-related movies like The Tigger Movie and Piglet’s Big Movie ended up with good legs in the past and one can hope for the same fate for Winnie the Pooh. I expect it to end up with $28-30 million in the bank and then do good business on home video.
Bad Teacher continues to show some longevity, common for R-rated films this summer, as it dropped 41.7% to the 7th spot of the box-office, making $5.2 million for an $88.5 million total. After its bad 2nd-weekend drop the movie rebounded very well and now seems on track to cross $100 million afterall. The Cameron Diaz vehicle will likely be more hurt by Friends with Benefits next weekend than Horrible Bosses as both are catering to female audiences. It should stabilize after that and leave the theatres with $103 million in its pockets, proving that Diaz is a solid draw on her own.
On the other hand, Larry Crowne, Tom Hanks’ second directorial effort, can’t catch a break, dropping over 50% for the second time in a row. Occupying the 8th spot this weekend, Larry Crowne brought in $2.6 million (down 56.7%) for a total of $31.6 million after 17 days. That’s not terrible considering the film’s $30 million budget, but with this film’s stars – Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts – this same film probably would have made around $100 million ten years ago. That shows that the two actors definitely have lost some of their drawing abilities. From now on the film will be shedding theatres like crazy and competition like Crazy Stupid Love will take away its audiences. Very soon the film will vanish from the screens with $37 million in the bank.
JJ Abrams’ leggy summer hit Super 8 experienced its biggest drop so far, falling a terrible 60.2% this weekend for a $1.9 million weekend take and #9 of the box-office, bringing its total to a superb $122.2 million. There isn’t much gas left in its tank, but frankly the movie has already performed very well in this summer filled with sequels and comic book adaptations. Next weekend’s Paramount release Captain America might actually give it a bit of a boost. Its multiplier already stands at almost 3.45 and will soon pass 3.5 on its way to a final gross of $128 million.
Re-entering the Top 10 once again in its 9th weekend, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris proved once again that, along with Bridesmaids, it is one of the biggest success stories of the summer. The film managed by far the best drop in the Top 12, easing only 28.2% for a $1.9 million gross and a total of $41.8 million. That makes it the highest-grossing film ever domestically for Woody Allen, topping his Hannah and Her Sisters’ success which held to that title for 25 years! The time-shifting ensemble comedy proved to be perfect summer entertainment for arthouse audiences and crossed into mainstream, delivering excellent legs, only overshadowed by Bridesmaids’ thunderous performance this summer. It should wind up with $54 million which is an amazing feat for a movie that has played in over 1,000 theatres for one week only!
Also rising a spot this weekend, Bridesmaids dropped only 36% for a $1.6 million weekend gross which brought its running total to $161.3 million after ten weeks on release. Despite Harry Potter’s enormous breakout, Bridesmaids remains the story of the summer as the movie looks set to pass the opening-to-total multiplier of such comedy smash hits as Wedding Crashers and The Hangover. It will end up with $168 million in the bank and a multiplier well above 6.
Rounding off the Top 12, Mr. Popper’s Penguins dropped 57.2% to $1.4 million as it lost almost 1,000 theatres this weekend. Its total gross now stands at $61.5 million after five weeks. It will find its way to $65 million which is a decent, if slightly disappointing number for Jim Carrey’s family comedy.