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Weekend Forecast for July 13-15, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

July 11, 2007

And if you sign on the dotted line, you can be in my really cool rock band!

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As if this red-hot summer box office needed a boost, Harry Potter has arrived to give the summer just a little more franchise power.

The fifth movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is the second to be released in the summer months. Following the events of the Goblet of Fire, where it is revealed that Lord Voldemort is closer than anyone feared to returning, Harry and Professor Dumbledore must do their best to convince others of this fact. The rest of Hogwart's School of Wizardry, however, is reluctant to believe it. Meanwhile, an officious bureaucrat is slowly taking control over the school, leaving students woefully unprepared for the coming fight. In response, Harry, Ron, Hermione, et. al take it upon themselves to thwart yet another of Voldemort's plans, and excitement is had by all.

While The Order of the Phoenix was the longest of the Harry Potter books, it is ironically the shortest of the films so far, coming in at just over two hours and answering a significant criticism of some of the films to date – that they suffer from bloat and are too long for children (in rebuttal, Warner Bros. might do well to wave the $3.5 billion that the series has earned worldwide).

Of some concern around the release date might be that the first to be released in the summer, The Prisoner of Azkaban, is currently the lowest grossing film of the series (a measly $250 million). Was that a one-off, or is this franchise's natural release date in the fall? The next few weeks will tell one way or the other. Working strongly in the film's favor is the mania surrounding the seventh and final book in the series, which hits shelves next week. Don't think this is a coincidence.




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Like all big films these days, Phoenix had a slate of preview screenings, starting Tuesday at midnight, in advance of the main Wednesday release. That saw it earn $12 million, besting our most recent film to use this tactic, Transformers, by about a third. Pent up demand is clearly running high. The most obvious comparison for this kind of release pattern, with no pesky holidays in the way, is Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which brought in around $7 million in its midnight screenings, on its way to $105 million in five days.

Extrapolating out with some helpful fudge factors, we get a range of between $140 to 180 million for the five days plus preview, if it can hold that kind of enthusiasm. Odds are good that it can, though it will be interesting to see where exactly the split comes. Wednesday should be gigantic, somewhere in the mid to high 40s, with a weekend figure of around $90 million. I'll split the difference on my expected range up there, and opening on a ridiculous 4,000+ screens, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix should come in with around $96 million for the weekend, and $165 million over five days.


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