Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: $58.1 million on opening Wednesday.

It's not a record, but the sixth Harry Potter picture scored $58.1 million yesterday. That's the fourth-biggest single day of all-time. Ahead of it are The Dark Knight ($67 million), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($62 million), and Spider-Man 3 ($59 million). It should be noted that this is the biggest day for any movie that wasn't opening on IMAX screens on the same day as the 35mm release. As we all know, IMAX was the main casualty of a last-minute release date change, when Warner Bros. moved the Harry Potter sequel from November 2008 to July, 2009. It now seems that losing that IMAX boost may have cost the film a shot at various box office records. Although I'm sure Warner Bros. isn't complaining.

Two years ago this weekend, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix opened to $44 million on its maiden Wednesday. It made $12 million of that total (27%) from midnight screenings. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince grossed $22.2 million from midnight showings, which gave it a whopping 38% of its entire first-day total. Of course, Harry Potter 5 had the most frontloaded five-day opening weekend that I can find on record, grossing 31.6% of its entire opening weekend in just that first Wendesday (that's a 3.16x multiplier). That fifth Potter film plummeted 59% on its second day. So, given the obviously more frontloaded nature of this sixth film, we shouldn't be shocked by a drop as high as 65% for today.

As for where the film goes from here, that won't be particularly clear until Saturday morning. If the film has the same multiplier as part V, then it ends Sunday with a fantastic $185 million five-day total (even a mere 3x multiplier would be $175 million for the sprint). It should be noted, as the sixth Potter film brushes up against this record or that record, that the film not only lacks the now common IMAX advantage, but (compared to The Dark Knight or Transformers 2) far more of its ticket purchases are theoretically at the discounted childrens' price rate. Regardless, this is a fantastic performance, especially for a sixth film in a franchise. In one day, it's now the second-highest grossing 'part 6' in box office history (or third if you count whichever Star Wars film is the sixth chapter, if you don't count them that as two separate trilogies). As we speak, it has likely surpassed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country's $74 million domestic take as the highest-grossing out-and-out fifth sequel in history (take that Freddy's Dead!). Not bad for a day's work.

Scott Mendelson

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