Weekend Wrap-Up

Harry Potter and the Front-loaded Opening Frame

By John Hamann

July 19, 2009

Harry has no spell to defend himself against this one.

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The final three-day figure comes in at $79.5 million, but the five-day is where the success lies. The five-day figure finishes at a huge $159.7 million, bigger than any other Potter film and well ahead of the $139.7 million that Order of the Phoenix earned over its first five days. Warner Bros. has again managed to get even more blood out of this stone. Does this mean that Half-Blood Prince will be the first Potter film to reach $300 million domestically since the first one did it in 2001? I think it could be. Critically, it's near the top of this series; however, these films could come in at 20% fresh and still earn $250 million. With Half-Blood Prince, we have bigger visuals, an older Harry, and romance – which certainly didn't stop teen girls from seeing Titanic. This Potter cost Warner Bros. $250 million to make, about $100 million more than usual, and from what I've heard most of that is on the screen. This tells me repeat viewings are in order, which is another factor in propelling a film toward $300 million.

Finishing second is not Bruno, last weekend's winner. It's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which means we have kids movies in the one-two position. Ice Age 3 earned another $17 million and was not crushed by Potter to the point I expected. Ice Age 3 dipped 36% this weekend, after falling 34% last weekend. This Ice Age is the complete opposite of Potter, as a smaller opening frame has allowed for better legs. The $90 million film now has a domestic gross of $152 million, and a worldwide gross approaching $500 million.

Bruno is not third, either. Third spot goes to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which is still somehow showing decent legs. Revenge earned another $13.8 million, and for the second consecutive weekend, kept its drop below 50%. Transformers 2 dropped 43%, and now has a decent shot at $400 million. Its gross so far sits at $363.9 million, and the overseas gross is approaching $400 million.


Bruno does manage to show up in fourth, but The Hangover and The Proposal are close on its tail. I called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the epitome of frontloading, but the answer is really Bruno. The Sacha Baron Cohen film is actually a one-night wonder, as it earned a significant amount more last weekend on opening night than it did this weekend. Bruno earned $8.4 million over its second frame, and drops a ridiculous 73%. All of a sudden, a film that looked solid last Saturday morning now looks like a middling success at best. Bruno has now earned $50 million since opening to $14.4 million last Friday night.

The Hangover hangs on again this weekend as it follows an 11% drop last weekend. Now in its seventh weekend, The Hangover earned another $8.3 million and dropped only 16%. I can't say enough how bizarre the year has been for comedy, as The Hangover now has a domestic gross of $235.9 million, and looks like it could have enough gas for $260 million.

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