Weekend Box Office – $79 Million Weekend is a Series Best for HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

     July 19, 2009

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I’ll admit that the astonishing first day success of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” had me believing in magic.  A week ago I would have happily settled for seeing the sixth installment in Warner’s wizarding-world franchise outperform its predecessor – “The Order of the Phoenix”.  But then came that record-breaking midnight debut, followed by the “second-only to Tf2″ Wednesday total and suddenly my head was filled with headlines that trumpeted Potter’s $200 million success by Monday.  Sadly, it was not to be.  But just because those breathlessly elevated estimates haven’t quite panned out doesn’t mean that “Half-Blood Prince” has any reason to feel ashamed.  Both the weekend take of nearly $80 million and its five-day total of just under $160 million are series’ bests for Potter…

Title Weekend Total
1 Harry Potter 6 $79,475,000 $159,662,000
2 Ice Age 3 $17,700,000 $152,005,000
3 Transformers 2 $13,750,000 $363,867,000
4 Brüno $8,374,000 $49,588,000
5 The Hangover $8,315,000 $235,882,000
6 The Proposal $8,294,000 $128,087,000
7 Public Enemies $7,592,000 $79,483,000
8 Up $3,147,000 $279,559,000
9 My Sister’s Keeper $2,825,000 $41,504,000
10 I Love You, Beth Cooper $2,665,000 $10,261,000

action_banner_draco_snape_harry_potter_and_the_half_blood_prince.jpg“Half-Blood Prince” debuted on the same Wednesday in July that “Order of the Phoenix” owned back in 2007, handy when you’re planning on doing a comparison.  “Phoenix” opened with $44 million, which was easily eclipsed by the $58 million of “Half-Blood”.  Thursday found the sixth film about four million ahead of its predecessor but the Friday totals for both evened out: $26.8 to $25.8.  So, OK this doesn’t exactly spell a sea change in the audience that is going to flock to a “Harry Potter” movie during the first few days – the film is back to its PG roots, after all, and we all know that kid-priced tickets and bargain matinees are the life-blood of the PG-skewing release.

The only radical change then – the thing that accounts for the increase in that five day total from 2007 to this week – is the fanboy contingent.  These are the folks (like me) who waited on line at 11:30 Tuesday night to see the “Harry Potter” we’d been denied for so many months.  By Friday, after the diehards were sated, the numbers for “Harry Potter 6″ increased in a much more moderate arc.  Considering this first day excitement I think it’s safe to assume that the inevitable midnight debut of “The Deathly Hallows” (especially part two) will be an epic release.  I hate to invoke “The Dark Knight” here, but if the cape fits…

The good news for “Harry Potter 6″, then, is the fact that it has the next few weeks to build up its totals.  Another “blockbuster” release isn’t due out until August when “GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra” hits, plus Potter will finally get a chance to rake in some sweet IMAX money when the strangle hold that “Transformers 2″ had on the higher-priced venues expires this week.  I have to admit that for a generally reviled title, “Transformers 2″ has had stronger legs than many gave it credit for.  Week four put it over $363 million domestically and, “Half-Blood Prince” aside, newer titles haven’t significantly slowed the sequel.

sacha_baron_cohen_bruno_01.jpgWhich brings us to “Brüno”.  I mentioned yesterday that Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow-up to “Borat” had fallen a big 80% since its debut last Friday.  The figures for the entire weekend weren’t far behind with a drop of 72% and a spot at number four – barely in front of the now seven week-old “The Hangover”.  In all honesty, “Brüno” was lucky to score that highly.  The writing was on the wall for this film after nearly every TV personality went on air last weekend to warn people about the film’s giant penises and flailing dildos. Not since “Watchmen” has so much been made over a cinematic appendage.

Next week we get back to the multiple-release weekends of late July.  Disney will debut its ‘agent hamster’ comedy “G-Force” in both 2D and 3D, Katherine Heigl will be back in the romantic comedy “The Ugly truth” and Warner Brothers has the horror movie “Orphan” opening.  “G-Force” hopes to knock down this week’s number two film, “Ice Age 3D” – though it would teach them to stop making stupid talking animal movies if the “Force” fell flat.  “Ugly Truth” could finally slow the surprise success of “The Proposal” a bit but, hopefully, next week should still belong to “Harry Potter”… though after “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” I don’t take any anthropomorphic flicks for granted.

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