Tonight’s midnight opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 on 3,700 screens is one of many records the once-boy wizard and his friends are poised to topple at the box office. By this time tomorrow morning I could be reporting upwards of $30 million or more in box office business from midnight screenings alone, not to mention the 3am and other early morning showings exhibitors are scrambling to put in place due to swelling demand.
The big box office battle this weekend will take place in the record books where Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson attempt to wash away Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Currently The Twilight Saga: New Moon holds the single-day box office record with $72.7 million in ticket sales. Other Twilight records Deathly Hallows will attempt to match or “eclipse” are the fastest film to $100 million (New Moon, 2 days), biggest November opening (New Moon, $142.8 million) and biggest midnight opening (Eclipse, $30 million).
According to THR, Deathly Hallows had accumulated more than $27 million in advance ticket sales through Wednesday. That number will likely easily surpass $30 million leading into the midnight debut. In total, Deathly Hallows will play on 4,124 screens in the United States this weekend. A record 239 of those showings will be on IMAX with higher ticket prices which, combined with the overall theater count and midnight showings, suggests the film’s 3-day weekend haul will be north of $100 million.
Warner Bros. had originally intended to release Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 in 3D but pulled the plug when the conversion wasn’t coming together in time. The sequel and final Potter outing, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, is still on track for 3D. Whatever records Part 1 earns will likely be toppled by its sequel next summer, and then challenged next fall and in 2012 by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2.