Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

July 16, 2007

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Harry Potter and the Barrels of Cash

Kim Hollis: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had the best non-holiday five-day total ever, earning $140 million. This is a tremendous performance, correct?

Michael Bentley: It's pretty darn good, yes. Though I can't imagine that anyone is surprised by it. It'll likely end up in the same ballpark as the previous Harry Potters: upper 290s.

Reagen Sulewski: I feel like my role is to be the bitter, washout, domineering sports-father sometimes (nothing is ever good enough!), but I always feel it's a bit of a disappointment when a film fails to follow up a record day with a dominating weekend performance. $44 million is good for a single day, but what did you do on the weekend? Oh, that's all, huh? Well, we'll do better next time, right? RIGHT??!!

In all seriousness, that's a damned impressive total, and it's going to be fastest to $150 million of any of the films previous to it in the series. The only reason I even bring up the weekend total is because that is the basis of future earnings.

Kim Hollis: Well, of course with the Wednesday opening, its weekend demand is instantly depleted. Especially when $44 million worth of customers saw it on its first day. I think Warner Bros. should be extremely pleased with the $140 million total in five days, but I also believe that has to be tempered a bit with caution. Will the release of the final Potter book cut into second weekend profits? I think there's a chance the answer is yes. But I also suspect this is why they decided on a Wednesday opening in the first place.

David Mumpower: Here are the numbers that matter about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Its five day total of $140.0 million is the best in the franchise's illustrious history by a whopping $20.3 million. Even if we adjust all the titles for inflation, it beats Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's $125.7 million by 11.4%. Using the inflated numbers, Chamber of Secrets would be at $115.2 million, Prisoner of Azkaban would be $119.6 million, and Goblet of Fire would be $127.0 million. So, it beats the best prior performer, Goblet of Fire, by a full 10%. It also beats Shrek 2, the previous record holder for a five-day non-holiday total, by $11 million. Reagen may be focusing upon the weekend performance, but what I see is the full body of work to date, and that is a striking total.


Have you heard that a new book will be available on bookshelves this weekend? No one cares about reading, right?

Kim Hollis: What tangible reasons are there for Order of the Phoenix to have shot out of the gate so much more strongly than the previous films?

Tim Briody: I'd call it partially the summer release and mostly that Deathly Hallows is due out this week. I admit I'm not into the series at all. Have any of the other movie releases come so close to a book release?

Michael Bentley: Nope, this is definitely the closest that any of the movies have been to a book release. I believe the sixth book came out about four months before the last movie (Goblet of Fire), which is the closest. But I agree, it's a combo of the summer time frame plus it being right before the eagerly-awaited final book.

Max Braden: I haven't read the books and though I've seen them all on dvd, only went to see the third one in theaters because I went with some friends. On seeing the trailer for the Order of the Phoenix, it was the first time I actively wanted to see the movie in theaters. I don't know if the trailer hooked audiences like it did for me, but I don't think it hurt. This one had positive reviews, but so did the previous films... I think the upcoming book release had an impact, as well as the draw of Harry's screen kiss. A partial consideration is that this release is on about 10% more screens than the previous films.

Reagen Sulewski: I also credit it mostly to the book's release date timing. It's Cross-Promotion 101. A couple of others factors helped a little - summer weekdays are about two to three times as high, which really only came into play on the Thursday, but still... and the six years of ticket inflation that we've seen since the first film was released, which has been about 20%.

Jim Van Nest: The seventh book release no doubt has a lot to do with the opening, but I think Max nails it even more. I'm a Potter fan and for me, the first four movies have been good but not great. Order of the Phoenix is, by far, the best of the films and you can tell even in the trailer. I think the trailer pulled in a lot of Max's that would normally wait for DVD, but the movie actually looked good to them, so they hit the theater.

Kim Hollis: I wouldn't agree with the contention that the trailer for the fifth film looked better than the previous films. Prisoner of Azkaban had the awesome "Something Wicked This Way Comes" preview and Goblet of Fire was similarly fantastic. By the same token, though, I liked Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire significantly more than the fifth film.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix always had an uphill battle to fight, particularly given the fact that this was the book that most people seem to have really disliked. The good news is that the primary reason for this hate, Dolores Umbridge, makes for a much better movie character than a book character - you can get away with being so cartoonish in film. I really do believe that what happened this month is a perfect storm of Potter. With both the movie in theaters and a book on the way in short order, fans were able to get worked into a frenzy and this led to massive success starting on Wednesday.

Les Winan: There has to be some correlation between the arrival into teendom/spending money of the first kids who were Potter fans and the growing success of the films. The increased quality of the films after 1 and 2 has to also be a factor.

David Mumpower: As everyone has mentioned, the timing of the movie against the unprecedented anticipation of the final Potter novel is a masterstroke. I do believe the success goes beyond that, however, and Les has touched upon why. What we have witnessed in recent years with franchise sequels is that the quality of prior titles does spill over to the box office performance of the next title. The initial struggle of Ocean's 13 is a perfect example of this. Order of the Phoenix is aided by the fact that its direct predecessors were both wonderful. The IMDb ratings and Rotten Tomatoes scores for Prisoner of Azkaban as well as Goblet of Fire are exemplary whereas Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets were less well received. The series is, for lack of a better word, perceived as peaking in quality, and that heightens consumer trust with the product.

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