Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two
I'll save you the anticipation, there's absolutely no chance that the last Harry Potter movie does not clean up at the box office this week. The question that I always ask myself when thinking about how well a movie is going to perform is "what have you done for me lately?" Well, I have had mixed feelings about the quality of the Harry Potter movies up to this point, and the slower paced HPatDHPO - now that's what I call an abbreviation - seemed to isolate some of casual fans of the series, but at some point a film like this one stops being just a movie and becomes an event. That's one of the major reasons I'm going to be doing my all day Harry Potter marathon, it's why so many people camped out at London, and it's going to be the reason that this film opens as one of the year's biggest movies. And think, it doesn't even need Team Edward!
So just how big is the final Potter movie going to be? Well considering that the series, even before being adapted for the big screen, was able to appeal to just about everyone with a pulse, I would likely say enormous. The penultimate film opened to about $125M, and that was with a November opening. Though the other Potter films opened to less when they released in July - actually two years ago to the day Half Blood Prince took in $77M in its first weekend - this movie will benefit from the increase that 3-D tickets provide, along with the cultural obligation that many will feel to see the last entry. I would actually compare this film more to The Dark Knight than any other movie released recently, which opened to $150M, and though it doesn't have the Ledger factor, I can definitely see the end of this magical series being almost as big of a draw.
Winnie the Pooh
I understand that releasing the latest reworking of a beloved Disney franchise alongside Harry Potter is a counter programing play, but honestly how much audience does Disney expect to take away from the Harry Potter juggernaut? The trailers have hit me pretty hard, and I'm excited to take a trip back to the Hundred Acre Wood, but by and large I imagine this move is bound to backfire on the Mouse House. Though I may actually be misreading the rationale for releasing this right now, as it seems to be positioned as an alternative for parents who are less comfortable taking younger children to a long, and likely violent, Harry Potter movie. That would certainly explain the less than 90 minute run time, and the inexplicable attachment of the Jake and the Neverland Pirates episode to pad this time out. Nothing says family friendly quite like the shenanigans of a group of people who were known for bloodthirsty murder and theft!
Releasing an animated film, especially with a name as recognizable as Winnie the Pooh strikes me as odd for July. Because it's such an anomaly I'm not even sure which films I can compare it to, animated or otherwise. I suppose the obvious one would be Ramona and Beezus simply because Selena Gomez had the Disney appeal, even though that movie was not a Disney product, and it was targeted at younger audiences. It also seemed to be marketed as a highly inoffensive family film. That one opened to about $7M around this time last year, going up both against Salt in its first week and Inception in a repeat bid. And by that point in time neither were as big as Harry Potter. Still, I can see Disney's latest offering, being positioned as a breath of fresh air rather than with a Cars 2~esque cash grab, doing around those Ramona and Beezus numbers this week.
This, obviously, means that Transformers 3 is going to be displaced from the top spot. As disappointed as I am that I am not going to be able to see both of these news films this weekend, I am partially relieved that I don't have to worry about picking between the two either. But this is a rare weekend where all of the wide releases show potential to be good movies, and that's always a comforting thought. That said, here's how the I imagine the top five will look after Sunday ends:
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3. Horrible Bosses
4. Winnie the Pooh
How much money do you think Harry Potter is going to make? Anyone planning on going at midnight and/or dressing up? Let me know in the comments section below!
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© 2011 Richard James Thorne