Posted by:
Lawrence Napoli

Box Office Weekly Roundup For 7/17/11


Weekly Roundup Ending 7/17/11


pic Harry Potter rules the movie galaxy and really, is anyone in the least bit surprised that this final installment of one of the greatest sagas captured on camera basically went door to door and demanded everyone to surrender their wallets?  Often is the case that when films release with impressive sales numbers, there are a number of mitigating circumstances explaining why it did as well as it did, and almost never because it was a stellar cinematic adventure.  Films that shatter the records, on the other hand, are almost (see Twilight BS) never flukes, and here’s some numbers to give Deathly Hallows some perspective in regards to dollars and cents.

All Time, 3 Day Opening Weekend Sales Records:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: $169.2 million (2011)
  2. The Dark Knight: $158.4 million (2008)
  3. Spider-Man 3: $151.1 million (2007)
  4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon: $142.8 million (2009)
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Chest Man’s: $135.6 million (2006)

A statistic that I found quite relevant in’s database tracking these sales numbers is the percentage of profit represented by the opening weekend of each respective film.  If opening weekend represents a greater percentage of overall profit taken in by a film, it basically indicates the extent to which it was a fluke or a one night stand with a Tai hooker.  Of course, Harry is far from cycling out of theatres, but if we examine the top 5 openers again, this opening weekend percentage eerily puts these films into an order that reflects their overall quality:

  1. – NA –
  2. The Dark Knight: 29.7 % of total
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Chest Man’s: 32.0 % of total
  4. Spider-Man 3: 44.9 % of total
  5. The Twilight Saga: New Moon: 48.2 % of total

Again, I remind the reader that a litany of cryptically constructed quatrains was not required to predict Potter’s impact despite the fact it was headlining a star-studded summer lineup, which has certainly been successful overall, but a bit disappointing when taking a closer look at some of the films critically as well as their individual sales performances.  It is true that with inflating ticket prices and pricier ticket alternatives to general admission, dollar amounts will NEVER be a true gauge of a film’s popularity and consequently, quality.  But dollars will always be the bottom line, and until individual tickets become accounted for, we will never have a chance to compare celluloid phenomena from different eras. 

Top 5 this past weekend:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: $169.2 million
  2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon: $21.3 million
  3. Horrible Bosses: $17.8 million
  4. Zookeeper: $12.3 million
  5. Cars 2: $8.4 million

Speaking of previous phenomena, I’ll bet some of you are waiting for my obligatory Avatar reference which I’m sure many may find surprising to not find present amidst the big boys of opening weekends.  It actually ranks 37th on the 3 day opening weekend list with a still impressive total of just over $77 million bucks.  Two things to note on that: 1) It was released in the middle of December 2009 and 2) Its opening weekend accounted for 10.3 % of its overall sales.  Of the top 116 films with impressive opening weekends, very few fall below the 20 % threshold, and the two closest were Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (15.0 %) and Independence Day (16.4 %).  These were films that started great and seemed to get better as they brewed in theatres, and this is something that studio accountants should research so as to address the alarming drop in sales most films experience in their second week from release and beyond.  Only time will tell if Deathly Hallows 2 will join the ranks of the truly unique in the eyes of the masses, but it’s a good enough film to maintain its #1 status over Captain America when that film releases this weekend.  If it does, Potter has more than enough of a global following to challenge Avatar for the all time king of the box office.

Top 5 cumulative box office for 2011:

  1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon- $302.9 million
  2. The Hangover Part II - $251.9 million
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides- $237.4 million
  4. Fast Five- $209.1 million
  5. Thor- $179.5 million

And so Transformers can claim to be the first of 2011 to finally crack the $300 million dollar benchmark.  How about another golf clap for Michael Bay?  In light of Potter’s success, how impressive is The Hangover Part II, a comedy, to still be on this list and how unimpressive was the fourth Pirates film?  One word will answer both questions easily: VERY!  There is no question that the Hangover sequel is the Dante of 2011 films, “he’s not supposed to be here!” while Pirates 4 more than likely had $300 million as the low end of its sales expectations.   With Cap, Cowboys and Aliens and maybe Smurfs rounding out the big names for the summer of 2011, I don’t see too much more adjusting to this list aside from placing the Deathly Hallows at the top and working in Captain America who should have no problem out-earning his fellow Avenger at the box office.  Where they all actually end up is for the viewing public to decide.  The power is YOURS!