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Weekend Forecast for November 19-21, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

November 19, 2010

The Potter crew is horrified that the money train is coming to a stop.

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There may be two new films hitting theaters this weekend, but let's face it, only one really matters. One of the largest grossing series in box office history hits its final stretch starting Friday.

On the Mount Rushmore of movie franchises, Harry Potter is the Teddy Roosevelt. Or maybe the Jefferson, I'm not sure exactly how this works. Point is, it's a big giant head carved into a mountain. I may have lost my metaphor here along the way.

Through the previous six films, it's made $1.7 billion in North America and $5.4 billion worldwide (which, for perspective, is approximately the GDP of Moldova). Add in several billion more in DVD sales, rental income and cable broadcast rights, and we're talking about one of the biggest juggernauts of all time, and a series that's made Warner Bros. a majestic pile of cash. So much so that Warner simply couldn't say goodbye so quickly, and split the seventh book, And The Deathly Hallows, into two movies, the first of which debuts at midnight Friday.




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One could easily take the cynical viewpoint that this move is solely to generate more cash out of the series, and Renault was also shocked to find out that there was gambling going on in his establishment. But it's also justified in that it's a long book (though not the longest in the series) and the wrap-up to close to (so far) 15 hours of movie, so extending out the coda is worth it (take that, Return of the King haters). And it's not as if Harry Potter fans are complaining about more Harry Potter. That it's one of the more action-oriented books certainly doesn't hurt.

This is the first Harry Potter film to get a conventional Friday release since 2005's Goblet of Fire, which took in $102 million on the same weekend. While I don't expect a lower number than this, though fan fervor hasn't had new books to keep it stimulated. This should be more than offset by the series being in its homestretch, though I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there might be some small number of fans who would wait until both chapters are out (the next arrives in July).

It's at this point that it's worthwhile talking about the series' records. The best ever day was Half-Blood Prince's $58 million opening day, while the best weekend day was Goblet of Fire's $40 million Friday (both of which include sneaks). I'm not banking on that single day record being broken, but a figure close to that should suffice for its opening night. Also, the three-day weekend record (Goblet of Fire's $102 million) should fall, as well as the record for any three day period (Half-Blood Prince's $107 million start) as Deathly Hallows Part 1 debuts to $111 million.

The sacrificial lamb going up against it is The Next Three Days, a crime thriller starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks and directed by Paul Haggis (most notable for Crash). Banks plays a woman convicted of murder (oh, let's say she's innocent just for plot's sake) about to lose her last appeal and be sent away for life. Crowe is her husband, a mild-mannered professor who mounts a daring escape plan for her after looking up “how to escape from prison” on the Internet. I'm only half kidding there.


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