- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 box office: Directed by David Yates, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Ralph Fiennes, Warner Bros.’ global mega-blockbuster in the making has failed to match mega-rosy predictions in the domestic market. Besides, the latest Harry Potter movie has broken no major records.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 box office: An undeniable mega-blockbuster in the making, the latest Harry Potter movie has opened below expectations
Nov. 19–21 weekend box office: Warner Bros.’ eagerly awaited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 wholly dominated the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, opening with $125 million from 4,125 theaters (including $24 million from Thursday midnight screenings) according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
Critics were less than enthusiastic – 69 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics” – but moviegoers couldn’t care less. Even without 3D surcharges, the next-to-last installment in the Harry Potter franchise averaged an outstanding $30,307 per location. (Admittedly, IMAX surcharges boosted its earnings at more than 350 sites.)
For comparison’s sake:
- Starring Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland opened with $116.1 million from 3,728 theaters in March – prior to 2010’s steep ticket-price increase but with the advantage of 3D surcharges – averaging $31,143 per venue.
- Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 opened with $128.1 million from 4,380 theaters in June, averaging $29,252 per venue.
- Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Lee Unkrich’s 3D-boosted Toy Story 3 – the year’s most successful release to date – opened with $110.3 million from 4,028 theaters in June, averaging $27,385 per venue.
Since the domestic opening-weekend grosses of Harry Potter movies have ranged between 25–40 percent of each entry’s total take, expect Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 to eventually earn between $270–$500 million in the U.S. and Canada. (Update: The pattern held true, but at the lower end of the scale; see further below.)
That’s the (very) good news about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Now, for the less-than-good news…
Key domestic box office records remain intact
For starters, the mega-budget Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – which, along with next year’s Part 2, cost a reported $250 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses) – failed to smash any key domestic box office records.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse has retained the record for midnight screenings ($30.1 million, even though Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opened at many more theaters – a record-setting 3,700 venues or whereabouts), The Twilight Saga: New Moon easily retained the record for best opening-day/single-day ($72.7 million vs. Deathly Hallows: Part 1’s $61.7 million on Friday/Thursday midnight), and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight just as easily retained the record for best three-day opening weekend ever ($158.4 million).
Another record not broken: In the major international markets, where the Harry Potter films tend to perform more strongly than in the domestic one, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opened with $28 million in the United Kingdom/Ireland, $21.8 million in Germany, $14.8 million in Australia, $14 million in Japan, and $12.3 million in Russia/CIS. Total after five days: $205 million as per The Hollywood Reporter.
Absolutely. Just remember that last year’s global blockbuster Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opened with $236 million at a similar number of venues/territories.
The inflation factor
Besides, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince may have actually retained the Harry Potter franchise’s opening-day record once inflation is taken into account. Its $58.2 million (including $22.2 million from midnight shows) gross on a Wednesday (apples and oranges…) in mid-July 2009 would represent around $62 million in fall 2010 (again, vs. Deathly Hallows: Part 1’s $61.7 million).
There’s more: After factoring in inflation (even while ignoring Deathly Hallows: Part 1’s IMAX surcharges), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone may have sold more tickets on its opening weekend: $90.3 million in 2001 represents about $126 million today.
Lastly, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was expected to score anywhere between $130–$150 million on its first weekend out. That makes its mammoth $125 million gross seem like a disappointment.
As for Harry Potter being the most successful movie franchise ever ($5.5 billion worldwide) … Well, apart from low-budget horror flicks (e.g., Saw and its six mean children), how many seven-movie franchises have there been in this century of overly inflated ticket prices?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 cast
Directed by David Yates and adapted by Steve Kloves (Oscar-nominated for Wonder Boys, 2000) from J.K. Rowling’s bestselling novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, and two-time Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, 1993; The English Patient, 1996) as Lord Voldemort.
Also in the extensive cast: Alan Rickman, Richard Griffiths, Helen McCrory, Fiona Shaw, Bonnie Wright, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Frances de la Tour, Michael Gambon, Geraldine Somerville, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Arben Bajraktaraj, Domhnall Gleeson, Toby Jones, Warwick Davis, Jamie Campbell Bower, Natalia Tena, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall, Brendan Gleeson, and Robbie Coltrane.
In addition to Oscar nominees Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove, 1997), Julie Walters (Educating Rita, 1983; Billy Elliot, 2001), Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, 2004), John Hurt (Midnight Express, 1978; The Elephant Man, 1980), and Miranda Richardson (Damage, 1992; Tom & Viv, 1994).
Mega-blockbuster fails to reach $1 billion worldwide
Update: David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 ultimately collected $295.9 million domestically and $680.6 million internationally. Worldwide total: A mega-profitable $976.5 million. Since then, several rereleases have raised the global total to $977.1 million.
Its top international markets (including rereleases) were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($86.1 million), Japan ($82.5 million), Germany ($66 million), France ($51.1 million), Australia ($41.7 million), China ($33.3 million), Russia/CIS ($26.3 million), Italy ($24.9 million), Brazil ($23.9 million), Mexico ($22.9 million), Spain ($19 million), South Korea ($18.1 million), Sweden (15.7 million), and The Netherlands ($13.8 million).
Indeed, without the overseas market, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – and all other Harry Potter movies – would never have gotten made at such a grandiose scale.
”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Box Office” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Box Office: Below Expectations + No Major Domestic Records Broken” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 images: Warner Bros.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Box Office: Below Expectations + No Major Domestic Records Broken” last updated in October 2022.