Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday Box Office (11/19/10): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I scores $61.2 million on first day.

It's a $61.2 million Friday for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I. That's the fifth-biggest single day of all time, behind the opening days of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($62 million), The Dark Knight ($67 million), Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($68 million), and Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72 million). It's the third biggest Friday of all, as Transformers 2 and Twilight Saga: Eclipse both opened on a Wednesday. The number surpasses the $58 million that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince earned on its first day (a Wednesday), and it clobbers the $40 million that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire earned on its first Friday in November 2005 (the last time one of these films opened on a Friday). For a bit of perspective, nine years ago this weekend, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone broke the record for a single day gross with $32 million on its first Friday (it would break that record again with $33 million the next day). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I nearly doubled that.

Some pundits are hollering about a $140-150 million weekend, and while I'd love to see that, the math doesn't make it a guarantee. The seventh Harry Potter film pulled down $24 million in midnight screenings, meaning that 39% of its daily take came from those 12:01am showings. That's even more than the midnight-to-first day ratio for Twilight Saga: New Moon, which grossed 36% of its first day ($26 million) in midnight showings. It also makes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I the most front-loaded midnight-to-first day picture of all time. So if Harry Potter 7 performs like Twilight 2, that would give it a $121 million opening weekend.

Yes, Harry Potter is more of a family franchise but A) the prior sequels were pretty front-loaded too and B) this film is absolutely not pitched towards small kids. On the other hand, the last two Friday-opening Potter films had 2.5x opening day-to-weekend multiplier (Goblet of Fire - $40m/$102m) and a 2.4x multiplier (Prisoner of Azkaban - $38m/$93m). Neither of those are mind-blowing holds, but they are better than the under-2x that the Twilight Saga is famous for. It Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I can pull off a Dark Knight-like 2.3x multiplier (no guarantee with such massive midnight front-loading), then the seventh picture can score a $141 million opening weekend.

Obviously the magic number for the weekend is $142.9 (2.33x), which will allow the boy who lived to tell the former Cedric Diggory to get the hell off of his lawn. Of course, even if boy who lived fails to overtake New Moon's opening weekend, I'm pretty sure Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I won't lose $100 million over its second weekend either. But, alas you will probably NOT hear about it here first, as I have family commitments for much of tomorrow. But I assure you, what I sacrifice in punctuality, I shall make up for in quality.

Scott Mendelson

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