Weekend Box Office (July 13 - 15, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Hogwarts fans flexed their muscles at the North American box office showing up in droves once again for the extended opening weekend of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which seized control of the multiplexes with its top spot debut. Most holdovers fared well too as no film in the top ten suffered a decline of more than 50%.

Flying in and winning the box office crown, the fifth Harry Potter film grossed $77.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend period according to final studio figures and an eye-popping $139.7M since its Wednesday launch. That gave Warner Bros. the second best Wednesday-to-Sunday opening in history trailing only the $152.4M of Spider-Man 2 which debuted just ahead of the Independence Day holiday in 2004.

Comparing Phoenix to previous Potter films or even to this summer's biggest opening weekends would be pointless since those blockbusters all debuted on a Friday. The latest wizard film did set a new Wednesday opening day record with $44.2M which ranked as the fifth best opening day overall. The budget was reportedly in the neighborhood of $200M.

Overseas, Warner Bros made a deep impact as well collecting a staggering $193M over five days from 44 territories from over 12,000 prints. In North America, the PG-13 film launched in 4,285 theaters with over 9,000 total prints. That gave Phoenix a jaw-dropping global opening of $333M in just five days putting it one-third of the way to the billion dollar mark. The film also set Imax records around the world.

Directed by David Yates, The Order of the Phoenix took the longest book in the wildly popular series and transformed it into the shortest of the five films thus far. Reviews were mixed but overall most were positive. Extra excitement was generated by the hype surrounding the debut of the seventh and final book which hits stores by no coincidence just a week after the film's opening weekend.

Phoenix hopes to eventually generate the $882M that the past Potter films have each averaged in worldwide box office. The stunning amount is equal to the current average of the three Pirates of the Caribbean pics and is higher than the $830M for each of the three Spider-Man films and the $808M average gross for the recent Star Wars trilogy. However, Potter still has a long way to go in order to come close to boosting its global box office average to the astounding $970M for The Lord of the Rings trio.

Phoenix averaged a powerful $17,995 over three days from its ultrawide saturation release which included 91 Imax locations. The blockbuster averaged an additional $14,974 from 4,181 playdates over its $62.6M Wednesday-Thursday midweek bow. Though diluted down by the midweek launch, the new wizard film still outdistanced its nearest competitor by more than a two-to-one ratio over the weekend period.

Bumped to second place in its second weekend was the robot megahit Transformers with $37M for Paramount and DreamWorks. The Michael Bay-directed actioner dropped only 48% which was encouraging for a summer tentpole given the arrival of Potter. The cume shot to an astounding $224M in only 13.5 days and became the director's all-time top grosser. Budgeted at $150M, the Autobots could go on to gross about $300M domestically and over $700M worldwide making it one of the summer's top-performing hits.

Disney and Pixar followed with their computer-animated concoction Ratatouille which slipped 38% to $18M in its third outing. The total reached $143M and the $200M mark still seems within reach. Bruce Willis captured $11.3M with his action sequel Live Free or Die Hard which fell 36% and upped its cume to $103.3M. A domestic final of roughly $130M seems likely.

The Robin Williams comedy License to Wed enjoyed a remarkably good hold in its second weekend grossing $7.3M. Off only 30%, the Warner Bros. title has taken in $30.4M in 13 days and could make its way to $50-55M.

MGM's long-lasting horror flick 1408 dipped only 30% in its fourth frame to $4.9M raising the cume to a solid $62.1M. The John Cusack starrer now looks on track to surpass Disturbia to become the top-grossing fright flick of 2007. Struggling to make its way into the century club, Steve Carell's Evan Almighty grossed $4.9M as well, down 44%, putting its total at $87.8M.

Universal stablemate Knocked Up followed with $3.7M, down only 30%, for a sum of $138.2M. The Michael Moore documentary Sicko dropped 28% to $2.6M giving Lionsgate $15.8M to date. Rounding out the top ten was Ocean's Thirteen with $2M, down 44%, putting the Warner Bros. sequel at $112.5M.

Don Cheadle's new indie film Talk To Me opened to solid results in limited release grossing $402,000 from only 33 theaters for a potent $12,182 average. The Focus release about controversial radio host Petey Greene earned strong reviews and played to both arthouse and African American audiences. Talk will expand further on July 27.

After Dark Films couldn't find paying customers for its new horror title Captivity which bowed to just $1.4M. The R-rated gorefest starring Elisha Cuthbert averaged a puny $1,347 from 1,061 venues and should arrive on DVD within minutes.

Falling from the top ten over the weekend was the super hero sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer which collected $1.6M tumbling 61% in its fifth mission. With $127.2M in the bank, the Fox release seems headed for a final domestic total of roughly $130M which would be 16% lower than the $154.7M of its 2005 predecessor. Silver Surfer has company in that department since most high profile summer films this year are running behind the paces of their last corresponding films. Percentages that this season's sequels are trailing their predecessors by include 6% for Ocean's Thirteen, 10% for Spider-Man 3, 25% for Shrek the Third, 25% for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and 55% for Evan Almighty. Even Pixar's Ratatouille is currently 9% behind the pace of last summer's Cars.

A handful of limited releases expanded into more markets and were met with varying results. MGM's war drama Rescue Dawn widened from six to 38 sites and grossed $363,093 for a strong $9,555 average. Cume is $591,998. Fox Searchlight's Joshua expanded from six to 152 locations and took in $214,153 for a mild $1,409 average. Total stands at $288,743. Warner Independent grossed $94,423 for its comedy Introducing the Dwights after going from four to 35 playdates. With an average of only $2,698, the total reached $148,293.

The top ten films grossed $168.8M which was up 14% from last year when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest remained at number one with $62.3M; and up 11% from 2005 when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory debuted on top with $56.2M.

Compared to projections, Order of the Phoenix opened below my $90M three-day forecast and Captivity debuted weaker than my $4M prediction.

For a review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Hairspray both open.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Jul 13 - 15 Jul 6 - 8 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $ 77,108,414 4,285 1 $ 17,995 $ 139,715,157 Warner Bros.
2 Transformers 37,027,901 70,502,384 -47.5 4,050 2 9,143 224,009,583 Paramount
3 Ratatouille 18,012,196 29,014,293 -37.9 3,625 3 4,969 142,997,082 Buena Vista
4 Live Free or Die Hard 11,279,135 17,730,149 -36.4 3,201 3 3,524 103,322,580 Fox
5 License to Wed 7,311,297 10,422,258 -29.8 2,715 2 2,693 30,379,749 Warner Bros.
6 1408 4,934,516 7,088,979 -30.4 2,206 4 2,237 62,127,222 MGM
7 Evan Almighty 4,895,055 8,719,135 -43.9 2,697 4 1,815 87,790,505 Universal
8 Knocked Up 3,676,500 5,222,680 -29.6 1,710 7 2,150 138,217,270 Universal
9 Sicko 2,604,139 3,600,179 -27.7 756 4 3,445 15,830,046 Lionsgate
10 Ocean's Thirteen 1,984,323 3,525,366 -43.7 1,244 6 1,595 112,506,702 Warner Bros.
11 Fantastic Four: Rise of the SS 1,633,612 4,239,993 -61.5 1,312 5 1,245 127,192,730 Fox
12 Captivity 1,429,100 1,061 1 1,347 1,429,100 After Dark
13 Pirates of the Caribbean: AWE 1,396,749 3,008,962 -53.6 928 8 1,505 304,454,423 Buena Vista
14 Evening 1,156,407 2,374,904 -51.3 760 3 1,522 10,842,501 Focus
15 Shrek the Third 662,041 1,537,841 -56.9 644 9 1,028 318,079,835 Paramount
16 You Kill Me 589,368 246,501 139.1 247 4 2,386 1,514,156 IFC
17 La Vie En Rose 543,470 608,884 -10.7 174 6 3,123 6,882,728 Picturehouse
18 Spider-Man 3 512,393 303,553 68.8 447 11 1,146 335,002,361 Sony
19 Talk to Me 402,000 33 1 12,182 402,000 Focus
20 Nancy Drew 390,766 912,495 -57.2 425 5 919 24,183,030 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 150,738,943 $ 136,388,219 10.5
Top 10 168,833,476 160,065,416 5.5
Top 20 177,549,382 171,277,186 3.7
Top 20 vs. 2006 177,549,382 155,365,263 14.3

Last Updated: July 16, 2007 at 10:30PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.