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Capping the most successful film franchise in history, Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 conjured up the top weekend opening of all time at the domestic box office, grossing a staggering $168.6 million.
Overseas, the pic opened to a massive $307 million, bringing its worldwide debut to $476 million–the largest on record by far, easily suprassing the $394 million earned by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The previous record for best weekend opening domestically belonged to Warners’ The Dark Knight, which grossed $158.4 million in its first three days.
Deathly Hallows 2 was a box office giant out of the gate, earning $92.1 million on Friday alone, including a record $43.5 million in midnight shows. The pic grossed another $42.8 million on Saturday, falling only 53%.
Other records set by Deathly Hallows 2 domestically: Largest opening day ever, and the largest opening for the franchise. Previous best was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 ($125 million).
Sentiment was running high as Potter fans rushed to see the final title in the franchise. They weren’t disappointed, and gave the film a stellar A CinemaScore. Females made up the majority of the audience at 54%, while 55% of those buying tickets were over the age of 25.
“It’s been a great ride to have worked on all eight movies over the course of 10 years, and to watch the kids [Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson] grow up. David Yates, the director, brought this home with style and professionalism, while David Heyman produced every movie with class and dignity,” Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said.
Fellman said the expansion of the North American box office–which has been struggling in recent months–proves that people will turn out if you give hem the right content.
“I think because it was the final chapter, a huge fanbase turned out on opening weekend, plus some people who had never seen a Potter film, but were curious,” said Fellman, noting that the film was likely buoyed by great reviews.
Deathly Hallows 2 is the first title in the franchise to be released in 3D. While 3D upped the film’s earning potential, only 43% of the opening gross came from 3D theaters, another reminder that moviegoers in North America are opting to see films in 2D and avoid the extra upcharge.
That didn’t hurt IMAX, though, which played Deathly Hallows 2 in 274 theaters. IMAX theaters supplied $15.5 million in revenues, a record opening for the large-format exhibitor.
Deathly Hallows 2’s overall box office glow fueled a great weekend overall, with revenues up as much as 37% over the same weekend last year.
Paramount’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon became the first film this year to jump the $300 million mark, grossing $21.2 million over the weekend for a cume of $302.8 million.
Disney’s new kids entry Winnie the Pooh met expectations in its debut, grossing $8 million in its debut. However, the film only placed No. 6 for the weekend, coming in behind fellow Disney/Pixar pic Cars 2, which grossed $8.3 million for a domestic cume of $165.3 million.
Sony Pictures Classics’ Midnight in Paris is now Woody Allen’s top domestic earner of all time, grossing $1.9 million for the weekend from 706 theaters for a cume of $41.8 million, surpassing the $40.1 million grossed by Hannah and Her Sisters.
One of the weaker spots at the domestic box office was specialty pic Snow Flower and Secret Fan, based on Lisa See’s bestselling book and produced by Wendi Murdoch. The Fox Searchlight release grossed $135,619 from 24 theaters for a soft per location average of $5,651. The film played best to the arthouse crowd who know the book, versus Chinese-Americans.
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