Death Hallows: Part 2 box office: Final Harry Potter movie shatters Eclipse record while far surpassing predecessor’s weekend gross
July 15-17 weekend box office: Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 dominated the North American box office this past July 15-17 weekend, earning a record-breaking (if you choose to ignore inflation) $169.2 million according to box office actuals found at boxofficemojo.com. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Ralph Fiennes, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scored a – 3D surcharge-boosted – $38,672 per-theater average at 4,375 locations.
Internationally, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is officially the record-breaking release ever (in U.S. dollars), having pulled in a whopping $312.3 million in 59 territories after five days.
Now, whenever you read about international opening-weekend records, it’s always good to remember a few things:
- Inflation is a reality around the world
- 3D – which represented nearly two-thirds of Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s first-day international gross – will inflate ticket prices by up to 40 percent, whether you’re tallying box office receipts in San Francisco, Santiago, Stockholm, Seoul, or Sydney
- Currency fluctuations can (and do) radically alter box office earnings when converted to U.S. dollars. (See international Titanic vs. Avatar box office comparison.)
- Some movies open in 10 territories, others in 20 or 30 or, in the case of the latest Harry Potter movie, 59. The only major film market missing from Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s international release is China, where it opens in August.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s worldwide tally after five days: $481.5 million.
So, will it become the very first Harry Potter movie to break the US$1 billion barrier because the Harry Potter fan base has become bigger, as studio executives are claiming?
Well, that’s the case only if you choose to ignore inflation. Else, several other Harry Potter movies have already earned that much (in 2011 U.S. dollars). What’s more, the very first Harry Potter – the Chris Columbus-directed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – will likely remain the most popular Harry Potter at the domestic (and possibly worldwide) box office in terms of ticket sales.
Anyhow, in terms of (U.S. dollar) grosses – but not necessarily ticket sales and not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations – Deathly Hallows: Part 2 broke opening-day records in Australia ($7.5 million), Italy ($4.6 million), and throughout much of Northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Additionally, it boasted the Wednesday opening record in France ($7.1 million), the preview record in Germany ($5.3 million), and the Warner Bros. opening day record in Russia ($4.1 million).
Once again in US dollars not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the biggest Harry Potter movie overseas, with earnings of $660 million.
Currently, another 3D entry, the Johnny Depp-Penélope Cruz vehicle Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, holds the record for biggest (unadjusted) international opening ever: $260.4 million last May. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince holds the record for biggest worldwide (including the U.S. and Canada) opening, $394 million.
At no. 2 in domestic market, Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon collected $21.3 million, down a hefty 55 percent from last weekend. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Josh Duhamel, Dark of the Moon became the first 2011 release to pass the $300 million milestone domestically. Total to date: $302.9 million. Worldwide: $762.3 million. Cost: $195 million.
Down a relatively modest 37 percent – thus holding up better than fellow R-rated comedy Bad Teacher – Horrible Bosses brought in $17.8 million. Greeted by wildly mixed reviews, Horrible Bosses stars Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey. Domestic total: $60.1 million. Cost: $35 million.
Kevin James’ “family” comedy Zookeeper – though down only 38 percent – has thus far fared considerably worse than the R-rated Horrible Bosses, taking in $12.3 million on its second weekend out. Sony Pictures has a sizable flop in its hands. Domestic total: $42.4 million. Worldwide: $49.9 million. Cost: $80 million.
At no. 5, John Lasseter’s Cars 2 drew $8.4 million. Domestic total: $165.4 million. Worldwide: $287 million. Cost: $200 million. The Disney/Pixar animated feature was followed by Disney newcomer Winnie the Pooh, opening at no. 6 with a mere $7.9 million at 2,405 venues, averaging $3,267 per site. Cost: $30 million.
Featuring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, and Kathy Bates, Midnight in Paris is now officially Woody Allen’s highest-grossing movie at the North American box office. Total to date: $41.8 million. Never mind the fact that the film Midnight in Paris has supposedly surpassed, Hannah and Her Sisters, came out in 1986, when movie ticket prices were considerably lower. In fact, in terms of ticket sales, Hannah and Her Sisters sold approximately twice as many movie tickets as Midnight in Paris. (Admittedly, with some help from an Oscar-season rerelease in early 1987.)
In terms of attendance, Annie Hall and Manhattan remain by far Woody Allen’s biggest box office hits in North America. Overseas, Midnight in Paris has collected $33.5 million, for a worldwide grand total of $75.3 million. All in all, a remarkably successful Woody Allen effort, especially for our much-changed movie-distribution era.
July 16: If you blithely choose to ignore ticket-price hikes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 now has the highest-grossing opening weekend ever in North America, having just surpassed Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 collected $168.6 million – including $43.5 million from midnight screenings – from 4,375 locations this July 15–17 weekend, or nearly $10 million more than The Dark Knight’s $158.4 million three years ago. If inflation didn’t exist, it would have to be invented so studios and the media could continue heralding one record-breaking phenomenon after another.
In terms of attendance, The Dark Knight remains way ahead of Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Not only its gross would be approximately $173 million in 2011 dollars, but the Batman Begins sequel starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger was distributed in the standard 2D format. About 43 percent of Deathly Hallows: Part 2‘s box office revenues originated from 3D venues. Those can cost up to 40 percent more than regular movie houses.
Even though its 3D ratio was considerably smaller than that of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon’s 60 percent, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 collected an estimated $72.5 million from 3D screenings, including a record-breaking $15.5 million from IMAX locations. Only Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland boasted higher 3D earnings on its first weekend, $81.3 million.
So, without the 3D revenue boost (estimating a modest 25 percent ticket-price increase average), Deathly Hallows: Part 2 would have earned about $154 million in ticket sales – or nearly $20 million less than The Dark Knight‘s inflation-adjusted $173 million. And never mind the fact that The Dark Knight opened at 94 (pricier) IMAX locations, versus Deathly Hallows: Part 2‘s 274 locations.
Admittedly, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has clearly outperformed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which drew $125 million on its first weekend out in November 2010. Thanks to inflated ticket prices and the 3D revenue-boosting effect, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will likely become the highest-grossing Harry Potter movie ever in North America, though it’ll in all likelihood trail Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – the very first Harry Potter movie – in terms of attendance. In that regard, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 may end up behind even Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as well.
Here are a couple more first-weekend comparisons: Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 3 earned $151.1 million in 2007 (approx. $168 million in 2011), Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart-Taylor Lautner’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon earned $142.8 million in 2009 (approx. $149.5 million in 2011), Gore Verbinski-Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest earned $135.6 million in 2006 (approx. $163 million in 2011).
At the domestic box office, the Harry Potter movies are about the surpass the cumulative (unadjusted) gross of the Star Wars movies: $2.177b vs. $2.218b. Needless to say, in terms of attendance the Star Wars movies remain very much ahead. Box Office Mojo estimates that the total take of the Harry Potter franchise represents 57 percent of the total take of the Star Wars franchise.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scored the highest-grossing single-day ever at the North American box office according to Box Office Mojo, collecting an estimated $92.1 million – including about $43.5 million from midnight screenings – at 4,375 locations on Friday, thus far surpassing the $72.7 million earned by the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson-Taylor Lautner combo The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
Now, if we’re discussing ticket sales instead of grosses – which can be easily inflated thanks to ticket-price hikes, 3D/IMAX surcharges – the gap separating Deathly Hallows: Part 2 from New Moon was considerably smaller.
First of all, bear in mind that New Moon‘s inflation-adjusted grosses would lift it to approximately $76 million in 2011 dollars. Deathly Hallows: Part 2, for its part, boasted the widest 3D release ever, at more than 3,100 theaters, including 274 IMAX sites. About 45 percent of the Harry Potter movie’s box office take originated from 3D venues. Those theaters can charge up to 40 percent more than standard movie “2D” houses.
Also, excepting Deathly Hallows: Part 2‘s record-breaking midnight grosses, the latest Harry Potter movie was behind Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight on Day 1, and earned as much as The Twilight Saga: New Moon if adjusted for inflation. That means 3D-less New Moon was way ahead in terms of estimated attendance.
Compared to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the sequel is undeniably way ahead at this stage. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 pulled in $61.7 million (including midnight grosses) in fall 2010.
If Deathly Hallows: Part 2 follows the pattern of its predecessor, it will earn around $180–$185 million by Sunday evening, easily shattering The Dark Knight‘s opening-weekend box office record. (Though The Dark Knight should remain ahead in terms of attendance.)
Directed by David Yates, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 smashed the domestic midnight opening record on Friday, collecting an estimated $43.5 million at 3,800 locations. The previous midnight record holder was the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson-Taylor Lautner movie The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which opened with $30 million at about 4,000 locations in late June 2010. David Slade directed Eclipse.
For comparison’s sake: The Twilight Saga: New Moon pulled in $26.3 million at midnight screenings, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 earned $24 million, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $22.2 million, The Dark Knight $18.5 million, and 2011’s previous record-holder, The Hangover Part II, $10.4 million. I’m assuming the suits at Warner Bros. are now lamenting that they didn’t split Deathly Hallows into twenty instead of just two movies.
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 record-breaking midnight opening was assisted by 3D surcharges. Even so, the last installment in the Harry Potter franchise also sold more tickets than Eclipse – though, obviously, the margin was considerably smaller in that regard as 3D surcharges can increase ticket prices by up to 40 percent.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opened with $125 million in November 2010. That represented 42 percent of the film’s total gross. Previous Harry Potter movies collected between 26–37 percent of their total take on their first weekend out.
At the domestic box office, apart from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Harry Potter movies have been selling increasingly fewer tickets since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opened in November 2001. Overseas, where the Harry Potter movies make about two-thirds of their revenues, attendance has remained relatively constant.
Also in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cast: Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Emma Thompson, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Kelly Macdonald, Ciaran Hinds, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Miranda Richardson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis, and Miriam Margolyes. Steve Kloves adapted J.K. Rowling’s novel.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 movie image: Jaap Buitendijk | Warner Bros.