Friday Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

June 5, 2004

Harry is a bit floored by his film's performance.

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Harry Potter has cast his third spell on North American audiences. The result is an astonishing $41.2 million opening Friday. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s the fourth biggest single day of all-time, though only the second-best day in the last two weeks. For those of you who thought that the Potter franchise might be in decline after The Chamber of Secrets failed to match the performance of the first film, boy do we ever have a number for you. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s debut is up 39% over the opening day box office tally of the second film in the series. Put down the wand, Mr. Potter. Box office records have already been Disapparated.

Judging the film’s potential weekend performance is a bit tricky. Two weeks ago saw Shrek 2, a film with roughly the same demographic appeal, achieve a jaw-dropping internal multiplier of 3.81. That was truly beyond our wildest dreams considering the movie’s $28.3 million Friday. We are understandably hesitant to either expect a 58% Saturday increase like the one the Ogre managed, but we also don’t want to lowball the wizard’s chances, either. Needless to say, the single day record Shrek 2 set just two weeks ago, $44.80 million, is in serious jeopardy tomorrow if Potter spikes any at all.

The debate lies in exactly how many kids were still in school two weeks ago vs. yesterday. For Shrek 2, many of the people solidly in the middle of its target demographic were unable to attend on Friday and therefore had to wait until Saturday. Conversely, the kids who have since gotten out of school had no problem attending opening day matinees for The Prisoner of Azkaban. If we examine prior Potter box office behavior, the first film had a Friday-to-Sunday multiplier of 2.79, while Chamber of Secrets had a 2.98. We have decided to err on the side of caution by extrapolating a 3.0 multiplier for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, though a larger number would not be surprising. In essence, we are looking at a $123.7 million opening weekend, meaning the third film in the Harry Potter series will own the record for the biggest opening in box office history at the close of business tomorrow.

Prior to the weekend of May 21, 2004, only one film had earned in excess of $100 million in its opening weekend. In the three weeks that have followed, this phenomenon has occurred twice, and we’ll see it happen again within a month. Welcome to the era of the giga-opener.

Notable Holdovers

For those of you who believe in the concept of competition, we’d again like to step on the neck of that fallacy. Despite the presence of what is likely the biggest opener of all-time, Shrek 2 fell only 51% from its previous holiday-inflated Friday. The Day After Tomorrow, on the other hand, was not quite as fortunate, as it fell 66.1%. It should recover to the 60% range by the end of the weekend, a typical blockbuster drop-off in this day and age.

Raising Helen had a reasonable holdover as it fell 45%, while Soul Plane lost its mojo with a 58% drop. To date, Shrek 2 is the only May opening demonstrating any legs.

Projected Estimates for the Top Ten (Three-Day)
Estimated Gross
1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 123.7
2 Shrek 2 34.2
3 The Day After Tomorrow 25.5
4 Raising Helen 6.6
5 Troy 5.5
6 Mean Girls 2.7
7 Soul Plane 2.4
8 Van Helsing 2.1
9 Man on Fire 1.0
10 Super Size Me .8



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