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Six points worth noting about 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' box office

July 18, 2011 |  8:09 am

"Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" broke the opening-weekend box-office record with nearly $169 million. But where will it end up on the all-time totals chart?  How does it stack it up with non 3-D openings?  And what movies have the best chance to beat it? A wizardly -- and occasionally stat-minded -- edition of our Monday-morning-quarterback post.

Next stop Nolanville? The movie that "Deathly Hallows" beat for the opening-weekend record was "The Dark Knight." So it shouldn't have much trouble topping the comic-book movie's total on the all-time domestic chart ($533 million, the third-highest ever, and best ever for a film not directed by James Cameron). But as it turns out, that could be a tall order. "The Dark Knight" played solidly throughout the summer, as people not previously inclined to see a superhero movie began hearing the buzz. "Deathly Hallows" won't easily replicate that feat -- it might get repeat viewings from the J.K. Rowling faithful, but at this advanced stage of its story development, it probably won't attract a lot of new fans.

Splitting the atom. It seems like ancient history now, but there was originally carping about Warner Bros.' decision to make two movies out of Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," with skeptics seeing it as a money-grabbing move and wondering if the source material could sustain two films. In retrospect, of course, it proved a financially and creatively satisfying decision -- which may provide encouragement to those worried about Summit's "Breaking Dawn" mitosis.

The 3-D effect. Amid all the hype about the weekend record, it's worth remembering that "Deathly Hallows" did have the benefit of 3-D ticket prices. Adjust for that advantage and it's still a robust performer, but not anywhere near a record breaker. (Instead it's on par with "Star Wars Episode III" -- or, for that matter, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," which tallied just north of $100 million selling 2-D tickets.) What "Deathly Hallows" has done, though, is set a new high-water mark for 3-D releases. That $53 million for "Green Lantern" looks even more paltry by comparison.

Holding history. How long will it hold the weekend record? There's no movie this summer that will come close. (Sorry, "Conan the Barbarian") But several will vie for the crown in the not-too-distant future. Next summer brings "The Dark Knight Rises," which has as an excellent shot of opening to even bigger numbers. And not long after that come two "Hobbit" movies as well as the final two "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" films.

Inflationary tendencies. If you're comparing "Deathly Hallows" with recent openings, inflation doesn't matter much. But some of the older films would give it a serious run if they came out today. Although the Daniel Radcliffe-Emma Watson blockbuster already is off on a breakneck pace that could see it reach a half-billion dollars domestically, that pales in contrast to the all-time inflation-adjusted record holder, "Gone with the Wind." Scarlett and Rhett raked in what would be about $1.6 billion dollars in 2011.

World domination. The $168 million for "Hallows" in the U.S. is impressive  But even more persuasive is how the boy wizard got the entire globe to move in lockstep. Overseas, the film tallied more than $300 million, giving it a great chance to be the worldwide top-grossing non-Cameron movie of all time. The number to beat? The $1.12 billion of "The Lords of the Rings: The Return of the King." The new Potter is already almost halfway there.


Final Harry Potter has highest domestic opening of all time

Harry Potter fandom: As quiet and introspective as it is public and raucous

Hero Complex: Complete Harry Potter coverage

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2." Credit: Warner Bros.

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