Box Office: Final 'Harry Potter' film has highest-grossing domestic opening of all time [Updated]
In his final act, "Harry Potter" conjured a masterful spell over audiences this weekend, as the eighth film in the massively popular franchise became the highest-grossing movie opening of all time at the domestic box office.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" raked in an unprecedented $168.6 million at the box office in just three days, flying past the $158.4-million record set by 2008's "The Dark Knight," according to an estimate by distributor Warner Bros.
The film about a boy wizard began breaking box office records only hours after it opened on Friday -- selling more tickets during post-midnight screenings than any other movie in history, and then passing the milestone for all-time highest single-day-gross with $92.1 million. The movie went on gross far more than any "Harry Potter" film has on its first weekend in theaters. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1," released last November, previously held that record with $125 million in ticket sales upon its debut.
Abroad, the last "Potter" installment also had a magical touch. As of Saturday, the film had collected $157.5 million in 59 foreign markets since it opened Wednesday in some overseas markets. That put the film's receipts 45% above those of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" after the same time period in those countries.
Those who saw the film loved it, giving it an average grade of A, according to market research film CinemaScore. "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," also the best-reviewed film of the series, appealed to a broad audience, though the crowd was somewhat more female (54%) than male (46%). Folks of all ages saw the movie: 28% of the crowd was under 18, while 20% was between the ages of 45 and 49. The film was also the first in the franchise to be released in 3-D, and about 43% of the audience watched it in that format.
Interestingly, a bulk of the U.S. business for “Deathly Hallows -- Part 2” came from Salt Lake City. Utah’s Jordan Commons megaplex sold more tickets to the final “Potter” film than any other theater in the country with $360,400 in receipts. Theaters in New York and San Francisco followed behind, but the fifth highest-grossing theater was also in Salt Lake. The headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered in Salt Lake City. Jeffrey Roy Holland, a Mormon senior apostle, appears to be a "Potter" supporter and has referred to J.K. Rowling's books in public addresses.
The only film brave enough to open opposite the "Harry Potter" juggernaut this weekend was "Winnie the Pooh," Disney's attempt to reintroduce the iconic honey-loving bear to modern audiences. But the hand-drawn animated film, rated G, mustered only $8 million in ticket sales.
Those who saw "Pooh" -- an audience dominated by families, which accounted for 85% of those who saw the movie -- liked it, giving it an average grade of A-. Disney, which spent about $30 million to produce the movie, can only hope that the strong grade will help "Pooh" hold up well in the coming weeks as the "Harry Potter" buzz begins to fade.
[Updated, 11:45 a.m.: By weekend's end, "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" will have grossed a whopping $307 million overseas, according to estimates, marking the biggest international weekend ever. The film performed best in the United Kingdom, where it collected $36.6 million, as well as Australia, where it made $26.7 million.
Two films that opened last weekend, "Horrible Bosses" and "Zookeeper," both had a solid hold at the box office despite the "Potter" onslaught. "Bosses," about three guys trying to kill their superiors, saw its ticket sales drop only 38% to $17.6 million, while receipts for the Kevin James family comedy "Zookeeper" fell 39% to $12.3 million.
Meanwhile, Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" this weekend officially became the filmmaker's highest-grossing film ever in North America. Since its release in May, the film has collected $41.8 million in the U.S. and Canada, surpassing the $40.1 million Allen's "Hannah and her Sisters" collected in 1986. Owen Wilson, who stars in "Paris," had this to say of the achievement: "Congratulations Woody -- delighted and honored to have been included."
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
2. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount): $21.3 million on its third weekend, down 55%. $39 million overseas in 59 foreign markets. Domestic total: $302.8 million. International total: $460 million.
3. "Horrible Bosses" (Warner Bros.): $17.6 million on its second weekend, down 38%. Domestic total: $60 million.
4. "Zookeeper" (MGM/Sony): $12.3 million on its second weekend, down 39%. $5.1 million overseas in 17 foreign markets. Domestic total: $42.4 million. International total: $15.8 million.
5. "Cars 2" (Disney/Pixar): $8.3 million on its fourth weekend, down 45%. $12.4 million overseas in 28 foreign markets. Domestic total: $165.3 million. International total: $146.6 million.
6. "Winnie the Pooh" (Disney): Opened to $8 million.
7. "Bad Teacher" (Sony): $5.2 million on its fourth weekend, down 42%. $6.5 million overseas in 30 foreign markets. Domestic total: $88.5 million. International total: $58.2 million.
8. "Larry Crowne" (Universal/Vendôme): $2.6 million on its third weekend, down 57%. Domestic total: $31.6 million.
9. "Super 8" (Paramount): $1.9 million on its sixth weekend, down 60%. Domestic total: $122.2 million.
10. "Midnight in Paris" (Sony Pictures Classics): $1.9 million on its ninth weekend, down 28%. Domestic total: $41.8 million.]
-- Amy Kaufman
Top photo: Daniel Radcliffe stars in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2." Credit: Warner Bros.
Bottom photo: Pooh, the animated honey-loving bear, featured in "Winnie the Pooh." Credit: Disney.