Harry Potter and the Weekend Box Office Sweep

Harry Potter fought off several newcomers over the crowded Thanksgiving holiday weekend to stay at the top of the box office charts for a second week. Walt Disney’s new 3D animated comedy Tangled put up quite a fight for the top spot and came close to unseating the boy wizard, ending up with a terrific five-day second place opening in the process. The news wasn’t that great however for the other wide openers this weekend. The musical Burlesque, the romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs, and the action thriller Faster all had moderate-to-weak openings.

Following a massive $125 million opening weekend Warner’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 dropped an understandable 60% in round two , the result of the series’ legions of fans seeing the film during its first seven days. Still, the movie continued to pull people in over the holiday weekend by grossing an estimated $50.3 million to bring its ten-day total to an excellent $220.4 million.

In comparison to the previous films after two weeks of release, the latest Potter film is running ever so slightly behind last year’s Half-Blood Prince ($221 million) but ahead of Order of the Phoenix ($202 million after two weeks) and Goblet of Fire ($201 million). Of course, the ticket prices for each of those films were lower than Hallows which puts the latest chapter slightly behind its predecessors. Nevertheless, the new film should have no problem hitting the $300 million mark domestically with at least twice that – if not more – from overseas markets.

The well-reviewed Disney animated 3D comedy Tangled hauled in a big $49.1 million for the weekend and a royal $69 million in estimated sales since its Wednesday debut. Of the 3,609 screens the film opened on, 2,461 were 3D equipped. This new take on the Rapunzel fairy tale was a big hit with critics (87% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) and the public, who gave the comedy an “A+” Cinemascore exit poll rating. Both factors should help Tangled have a holiday run as long as the hair of its female lead character.

Not to be denied of its share of the family film holiday pie was Dreamworks/Paramount’s 3D hit Megamind. The Will Ferrell-voiced comedy earned $12.9 million this weekend to bring its total to the $130 million mark. The film should finish its domestic run somewhere between $155-160 million.

According to estimates, two films are tied for fourth place this weekend: the $55 million Screen Gems musical Burlesque and the Fox thriller Unstoppable, each with approximately $11.8 million in ticket sales. Burlesque, which was hammered by critics (a less-than-stellar 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), got off to a pretty weak start with only $5.3 million in mid-week sales. For its first five days, Burlesque teased $17.2 million in ticket sales. Despite the presence of singers Aguilera and Cher, each whom have a considerable fan following (I think), it appeared that no one outside of those two camps were interested in seeing the latest Chicago wannabe.

People, however, are continuing to show interest in Fox’s runaway train drama starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. The $11.8 million haul for Unstoppable in its third round brought its total to an estimated $61 million to date. The Tony Scott-directed film might not have what it takes to reach $100 million, but it should come close to the $90 million mark when all is said and done before chugging along to greener pastures on home video.

Debuting in sixth place on 2,455 screens was the Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs with a flat $9.4 million for the weekend and a $14 million total since its debut last Wednesday. The reviews for the latest film directed by Edward Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai) were largely negative (42% on Rotten Tomatoes). Bad reviews are one possible factor from keeping viewers away. Another may have been the film’s R rating. Whatever the reason, one has to wonder why Fox chose a big holiday weekend to release an adult comedy that probably would have been better suited for a less competitive time frame.

Just like Anne and Jake, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson didn’t have much luck either pulling in viewers this weekend with his latest film, the R-rated action thriller Faster. The latest misfire from CBS Films, the $24 million production landed in seventh place for a weak $8.5 million weekend take and a five-day debut of $12.2 million. Co-produced by Sony, the critically-dismissed flick (43% Rotten Tomatoes rating) also stars Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace, and Carla Gugino. The film marks The Rock’s return to R-rated action after five years of starring in family features and comedies such as Get Smart, The Other Guys, Escape to Witch Mountain and The Tooth Fairy.

The remainder of the top ten were holdovers from the start of November. Warner’s comedy hit Due Date added $7 million to its total which now stands at approximately $85 million. The film still has an outside chance of hitting $100 million. In ninth place was Lionsgate’s Russell Crowe drama The Next Three Days which held up fairly well thanks to the holiday weekend. Dropping only 15% from its opener, the film landed $6 million for the weekend to bring its ten-day total to approximately $16 million. The Paul Haggis feature should finish its run with a meager $25 million in the bank. And rounding out the top ten was Paramount’s comedy Morning Glory which added an estimated $4.5 million to bring its three-week total to $27 million.

Future Oscar hopeful The King’s Speech got off to a torrid start in limited release. Playing on only four screens, the Weinstein Company’s drama earned a remarkable $350,000 over the holiday weekend and a royal per-screen average of $87,000. The film will slowly make its way across the country over the next couple of months to take advantage of year-end critics lists as well as awards.

Next weekend, Universal’s The Warrior’s Way arrives on the scene along with a limited launch of Darren Aronofsky’s latest, the bizarre ballet drama Black Swan. Trust me, after seeing this film you’ll never look at ballet or Natalie Portman the same way again (and I mean that in a very positive way).

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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