BOX OFFICE: ‘Harry Potter’ and the Record-Breaking Hit

Posted by · 9:54 am · July 17th, 2011

We all saw this coming. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the culmination of 10 years of filmmaking that racked up tons of dollars along the way, won the box office this weekend. Things started with the highest opening day gross of all time ($92 million, blasting away the record previously held by “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” by $20 million), before the film zipped past “The Dark Knight”‘s opening weekend record and settled at a whopping $168.5 million for the weekend. In other news, at a more modest $41.7 million, “Midnight in Paris” popped back into the top 10 and became Woody Allen’s highest grossing film to date, while “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is now the year’s first $300 million grosser. It’s now a battle between the boy wizard and the robots for the year’s domestic crown. It just depends on how front-loaded the former is. We’ll keep an eye on it throughout the rest of the summer.

(Courtesy: Exhibitor Relations)

→ 40 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Box Office

40 responses so far

  • 1 7-17-2011 at 10:01 am

    Hans said...

    Still half a world away in Singapore. I’m fighting jet lag the moment I touch down in Atlanta to go watch. Congrats to all involved.

  • 2 7-17-2011 at 10:19 am

    SC said...

    The #1 movie made more than the rest of the top ten combined – actually, almost three times as much.

  • 3 7-17-2011 at 10:39 am

    Rashad said...

    I know it broke TDK’s record, but for some reason it doesnt feel as big

  • 4 7-17-2011 at 10:42 am

    Ben M. said...

    As I was suspecting, DH2 is the new #1 opening. But in contrast to Saturday where the 92 million opening day made some think it had a shot at $190 million, this record seems like a more beatable target for future blockbusters, particularly when even with a smaller percentage of 3D screens than many other movies (deadline listed 4250 of the 11000+ domestic screens as being in 3D) I don’t think it would have beaten Dark Knight if not for 3D surcharges. Still, a great opening and amazing for a franchise to has this kind of longevity.

    And it is nice to see Midnight in Paris back in the top ten and becoming Allen’s top film.

  • 5 7-17-2011 at 10:42 am

    red_wine said...

    I think Potter will claim the 2011 crown, both domestically and overseas.

  • 6 7-17-2011 at 10:43 am

    Chris138 said...

    Astonishing numbers for Harry Potter. What a way to end the franchise.

  • 7 7-17-2011 at 10:43 am

    Lucas said...

    Of course it broke TDK’s record – it was in 3D. Box office doesn’t matter anymore as much as number of tickets sold.

  • 8 7-17-2011 at 10:47 am

    Rashad said...

    Because so many 3d movies have broken the record.

  • 9 7-17-2011 at 10:48 am

    Maxim said...

    I’m guessing that’s because Harry Potter isn’t “new”. That franchise already arrived, so it’s
    relative growth may not feel as big.

    That said, I think chances are high that the highest grossing film will actually arrive in winter.

  • 10 7-17-2011 at 10:52 am

    SJG said...

    Good to see “Midnight in Paris” back in the top 10.

  • 11 7-17-2011 at 10:59 am

    Jacob S. said...

    Looks like the next film to join the $1 billion club for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it reaches #3 on the all-time chart.

  • 12 7-17-2011 at 11:11 am

    RichardA said...

    I’ve been planning to see Midnight in Paris again–I wonder if there’s alot of repeat viewing.

  • 13 7-17-2011 at 11:33 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Maxim: I hope you don’t mean Tintin. Pipe dream.

  • 14 7-17-2011 at 12:03 pm

    Maxim said...

    “Of course it broke TDK’s record – it was in 3D. ”

    By the way, Lucas. TDK benefited from IMAX pricing too. And those tickets aren’t exactly cheap either.

  • 15 7-17-2011 at 12:11 pm

    Dana Jones said...


    Fat chance, but I have a feeling that the projectile vomit known as Twilight will do some serious box office damage and possibly surpass DH pt. 2. ‘Effin tweens.

  • 16 7-17-2011 at 12:12 pm

    Dana Jones said...

    @Lucas- only 43% of the opening gross came from 3D theaters

  • 17 7-17-2011 at 12:36 pm

    Chris138 said...

    I agree with Jacob S. about Harry Potter likely becoming the next movie to cross the $1 billion mark internationally. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

  • 18 7-17-2011 at 12:39 pm

    Loyal said...

    Great success for Potter though it’s likely to –

    Fall to the number #2 spot next weekend against Captain America.

    Will possibly fail to claim the #1 spot of 2011 against Transformers 3.

    The Opening Day/Opening Weekend records will likely fall this time next year thanks to The Dark Knight Rises.

    All that aside, the 8th Potter film in 10 years opening to 168m and eventually making 1 billion worldwide is impressive.

  • 19 7-17-2011 at 12:58 pm

    matsunaga said...

    I hope to see more of Midnight in Paris in the coming weeks….

    And Winnie the Pooh is good as well… Kris will you be making a Winnie the Pooh thread?

  • 20 7-17-2011 at 1:17 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Midnight in Paris, I’m so happy for it to return to the top ten. The little engine that could.

  • 21 7-17-2011 at 1:20 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Loyal: I don’t think TDKR won’t beat these numbers because A) it’s rumored to be over 2 and a half hours long (so, less showings), and B) no 3D. And in any case, as I’ve said before, I don’t even see TDKR beating TDK numbers, so…

  • 22 7-17-2011 at 3:15 pm

    Loyal said...

    Not to turn this into another Batman thread Kris but I read in a few places today that without the benefit of 3D prices, Potter would have fallen short of TDK’s record which speaks volumes to how big that film was. 4 out of the 6 Batman films have opening weekend records. North America LOVES Batman.

    I think with the hype machine in overdrive next summer and TDKR becoming the movie event of 2012, it could make upwards of 180m-190m opening weekend. 100m Opening Day could be out of reach but I can see it making north of 92.1m which is enough to best Potter.

  • 23 7-17-2011 at 3:30 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m well on the record as believing TDK was a phenom due largely to Ledger voyeurism. But we’re not talking about TDK. We’re talking about its sequel.

    180-190 is WAY, WAY reaching, even if you don’t buy my perspective on TDK. You don’t get to those numbers these days without a price bump (which, granted, TDKR will have in part due to IMAX) and the highest number of screens (which, again, could happen due to lack of 3D). But I don’t see it happening.

  • 24 7-17-2011 at 3:54 pm

    DRM said...

    Maxim, TDK was on 94 IMAX screens. Potter was on 274 IMAX screens.

    And Dana, 43% of the cash in 3D is the equivalent of an 11% boost over what it would have made without the 3D effect, since 3D tickets are at least 30% higher than 2D across the board. That would have put it at $152 million, which is $20 million less than TDK (and Spidey 3) adjust to with regular ticket price inflation.

    Still, Potter increased 22% in admissions over the previous Potter movie. That is INCREDIBLE.

  • 25 7-17-2011 at 4:18 pm

    Chris G. said...

    DH#2 is also a shorter movie than TDK, making way for more screenings/day.

  • 26 7-17-2011 at 5:19 pm

    Loyal said...

    “Still, Potter increased 22% in admissions over the previous Potter movie. That is INCREDIBLE.”

    Though it’s still behind The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and the first Spider-Man in attendance.

  • 27 7-17-2011 at 5:31 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Where does everyone get attendance figures, anyway?

  • 28 7-17-2011 at 5:53 pm

    DRM said...

    Kris, the theater owners release an average ticket price every year. You can check it out by looking at the all-time adjusted for inflation list on Box Office Mojo.

    Click on the dropdown box at the top of the screen to see the average price each year. The way you calculate it is by dividing the dollar gross by the average price at the time the film comes out. But with 3D tickets costing 30% more than 2D, you then have to figure out a 3D boost. In this case, WB told us that 43% of Potter’s cash came from 3D. That is $72.5 million. Now divide that by 1.3 (30% 3D surcharge) and you get $55.75 million without the 3D boost. Add in the other $96.05 million in 2D and you end up with $151.8 million.

  • 29 7-17-2011 at 6:43 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    So…not at all an exact science. Figured.

  • 30 7-17-2011 at 8:00 pm

    Rashad said...

    Pretty much.

    I also hate people adjusting for inflation. Gone With The Wind made it’s money in several years, but people count all of the money in 1939 dollars.

  • 31 7-17-2011 at 8:17 pm

    DRM said...


    I agree on the difficulty of adjusting for older movies like GWTW. But for recent stuff I think it’s relevant. Titanic remains the most incredible box office phenomenon of modern times. Its ticket sales were flat out insane for a modern movie (120 million compared to 77 million for Avatar and 71 million for TDK).

  • 32 7-17-2011 at 8:19 pm

    DRM said...

    Oh and 85 million tickets for Star Wars Episode I, which is a pretty incredible number considering how mediocre the movie was. But it had great legs and clearly a lot of people liked it or it wouldn’t have kept chugging along the way it did.

  • 33 7-17-2011 at 8:56 pm

    Filipe said...

    I don’t care about any record-breaking stuff, but if you think about it…
    The franchise is big enough to have 8 critically-acclaimed and now financially successful films, and everyone is either seeing it or talking about it, which is pretty incredible since it’s a story about a boy with a wand, and considering that the first book was released in 1997 and that Batman, Spider-Man are existent for a much longer time.

    I can’t think how someone can possibly disagree about that.

  • 34 7-18-2011 at 4:17 am

    Graysmith said...

    It’s also worth noting that The Tree of Life passed $10m at the North American box office this weekend. A modest sum in the grand scheme of things perhaps, but still impressive seeing as it never played in more than 237 theaters. It’s on par with the most successful art house films of the year, Win Win ($10.2m) and Jane Eyre ($11.2m). I suppose Midnight in Paris would be the most successful limited release of the year, but it played three-four times wider than any of these films too.

  • 35 7-18-2011 at 4:29 am

    Ben M. said...

    I think Star Wars Episode 1 sold that many tickets due to more pre-release hype than any other movie has had, there was actually a fair amount of talk before it came out that it could pass Titanic, and you saw the gross go down for the next prequels partly due to the mediocre reaction to that movie.

    And I’ll thrown in that while Dark Knight Rises will be a big hit I also think it will drop off from Dark Knight, not only was the Ledger story part of the attraction but I feel The Joker is the biggest draw among comic book villains.

  • 36 7-18-2011 at 5:41 am

    Tony Ruggio said...

    Kris, are you serious in suggesting TDK’s OW was due to Ledger voyeurism? Yes, his death was a tragedy. But he was never a star before TDK. Why would a guy with no box office draw make that big of a difference just because he died. I do think that his performance helped the film develop incredible legs and gross what it did in the long run. But OW? No.

    And it doesn’t matter if Ledger’s death had that much of an effect. The fact of the matter is droves of people loved TDK and will show up to the conclusion. Add in IMAX and inflation (TDK’s OW already adjusts to 173 mil) and it should have no problem surpassing Potter.

  • 37 7-18-2011 at 5:50 am

    DRM said...

    I agree Ben. TDK will adjust to around $600m in 2012 dollars. I’m predicting $450m for TDKR, so a 25% drop in admissions.

  • 38 7-18-2011 at 2:56 pm

    D said...

    I agree with Kris. I think Ledger’s tragic death was certainly a factor to that movies numbers.

  • 39 7-18-2011 at 3:04 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I would be surprised if The Dark Knight Rises does not break this record.

  • 40 7-19-2011 at 7:40 am

    JJ1 said...

    I definitely think that the Heath Ledger thing offered an initial macabre intrigue.

    But after that first week or so, the reviews/word of mouth hit, and it became all about the movie itself and how GOOD Ledger was.