In its magical debut, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has claimed another record: the all-time domestic weekend opening. With an estimated $168.5 million from its 4,375 locations, Harry Potter’s final installment topped the former record of $158.7 million that The Dark Knight set in July 2008.
|1||Harry Potter 7b||$168,550,000||$168.5|
|6||Winnie the Pooh||$9,000,000||$8|
|10||Midnight in Paris||$1,891,000||$41.8|
Though it was very clear that the weekend record would fall after Deathly Hallows 2 took in an absolutely staggering $43.5 million from its Friday midnight screenings alone, earlier in the week it looked like Harry’s curtain call would leave The Dark Knight’s record intact. With Deathly Hallows 1 taking in $125 million in its first weekend last November (the former franchise high), the accepted wisdom was that Part 2 would top out at $150 million. By Friday night, however, a high end of $180 million seemed more likely. The new projection relied on two factors: higher 3D ticket prices at a record 70% of Potter’s venues and the fact that Part 1’s first weekend gross was roughly double its take from its opening day. Part 2 went on to secure the single-day record with a giant $91.2 million so, if my math is correct, double that and you get a bit more than $180 million.
As of this morning’s estimate the actual weekend of Deathly Hallows 2 came in between the two projections. While still enough to give Potter what is probably the most coveted domestic box office title, it was not as overwhelming a win as the film’s single-day record ($20 million higher than Twilight: New Moon) or its midnight title ($13.5 million more than Twilight: Eclipse). Adjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight would chart at $166.3 million for 2011. Then there is the fact that Batman was a hit in only two dimensions. Deathly Hallows 2 is the first film of the Potter franchise to be converted into 3D. Though less than half of the film’s domestic grosses came from the higher-priced medium (as opposed to the 60% garnered by Transformers: Dark of the Moon three weeks ago) a similar split for TDK would have put the superhero above $180 million in his first three days.
As a fan-driven event movie, it was a given that Deathly Hallows 2 would be incredibly front-loaded. Titles are nice but the real test for the film will be how much it invites repeat viewings and non-Potter fanatics to its screenings in the coming week. Part 1 fell off by 60% in its second weekend and another 65% in its third. In contrast The Dark Knight exhibited a remarkable staying power which Harry Potter may not be able to match. And then there is the fact that the boy wizard may be only renting that weekend title from Batman. Judging from the interest in a certain teaser trailer attached to the final Potter film, The Dark Knight Rises could reclaim the record when it debuts next year despite its two dimensions and lack of Ledger.
Like all of summer 2011’s biggest hits, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is also making magic overseas. Potter broke records in nearly all of his international debuts and earned a reported $157.5 million through Friday from 59 territories. So far that puts the film 45% above the international gross of Part 1 and represents 48% of the $326 million Potter has taken in around the world so far. Expect to see the international percentage rise in the coming week as numbers for the film’s first weekend abroad come in but, if the film follows the international course of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Deathly Hallows 2 should become the first film in the Potter franchise to break one billion. 2001’s The Sorcerer’s Stone is the series’ leader (and ninth highest grossing film of all-time) with $974.7 million while Part 1 charts second with $955 million.
Despite all appearances, there actually was a second new movie at this weekend’s box office. Disney’s G-rated Winnie the Pooh debuted with $8 million from 2,405 locations which was on target with studio expectations. Overall, the weekend total crushed 2010 when Despicable Me came out on top with $56.4 million and next weekend we should stay in the black as Captain America: the First Avenger debuts.