Weekend Box Office (November 16 - 18, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND With one wave of his magical wand, Harry Potter made all previous box office records vanish in an instant!

Warner Bros. hit historic new highs with the much awaited fantasy adventure Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which grossed $90.3M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures, making it the largest opening weekend ever. Playing in 3,672 theaters, the Chris Columbus-directed film averaged an enchanting $24,590 per castle and demolished numerous box office records in the process by attracting wizards and muggles alike.

Remaining faithful to the storyline of the best-selling children's novel from which it was adapted, Harry Potter brought author J.K. Rowling's immensely popular eleven-year-old wizard to the big screen in the first of what is planned to be several cinematic adventures. Reviews were generally positive although many critics felt that the PG-rated movie could have been more imaginative had it not adhered so strictly to the book. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the two-and-a-half hour film a solid A grade with those under 21 bestowing a spellbinding A+ on the film. Harry Potter's monumental performance crushed the opening weekend record held for four-and-a-half years by Steven Spielberg's The Lost World which grossed $72.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its Memorial Day weekend launch in 1997.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione also destroyed a number of other box office records over the weekend. The megablockbuster's weekend tally set new benchmarks for Warner Bros. (surpassing Batman Forever's $52.8M from 1995), the month of November (beating Monsters, Inc.'s $62.6M from two weeks ago), and the year 2001 (vaulting past Planet of the Apes' $68.5M from July). Potter's bow in 3,672 theaters gave it the widest opening in history edging out last year's Mission: Impossible 2 which launched in 3,653 sites. With multiple bookings in multiplexes everywhere, Harry Potter commanded over 8,200 total screens in North America.

Daily records were also set by the wizard tale. Warner Bros. reported a Friday haul of $32,333,203 which beat out the old records for opening day (Star Wars Episode I's $28.5M) and for Friday (Apes' $24.6M). Saturday ticket sales climbed 4% to $33,512,941, according to the studio, surpassing the previous best for that day of $26.9M by The Mummy Returns. Warners collected $24,448,477 on Sunday (off 27%) making it the second best Sunday behind The Lost World's $26.1M.

"It was a sensational opening which exceeded our expectations," exclaimed Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros. With a $125M production budget, Harry Potter is expected to be the studio's cash cow for the coming decade taking the torch from the fading Batman and Lethal Weapon franchises. Led by the wizard's remarkable opening, Warner Bros. replaced Universal this weekend as the year's market share leader with over $855M in year-to-date box office receipts. The studio should remain in pole position for the rest of the year.

Not only did Harry Potter conquer the North American box office, but the effects-driven adventure obliterated records in the United Kingdom where it launched this weekend as well. UK ticket buyers spent a mammoth 16.3 million pounds ($23.8M) on Potter tickets this weekend (including last weekend's 6.6 million pounds in previews) and beat the previous record of 9.5 million pounds ($14.7M) held by The Phantom Menace's four-day bow. Potter also bowed in Taiwan with $2.3M. Harry Potter will fly into two dozen European, Asian, and Latin American territories in the next two weeks including what are sure to be monster openings in Japan, Germany, Brazil, and Australia.

With so much global success for the boy wizard, the second installment - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - will begin principal photography in London this week with Columbus once again at the helm in preparation for its planned November 15, 2002 release.

As for this year, Sorcerer's Stone will attempt to reach the $100M mark faster than any other film on Monday after only four days of release. Episode I currently holds the speed records for $100M (five days), $200M (13 days), and $300M (28 days). With students going on holiday this week for Thanksgiving, another enormous frame awaits Harry Potter next weekend as it continues to challenge Anakin and pals for box office bragging rights. New releases set to open this Wednesday for the Turkey Day holiday include Fox's comedy Black Knight in about 2,700 theaters, Universal's thriller Spy Game in roughly 2,600 locations, and Buena Vista's snowboarding pic Out Cold in around 2,000 sites.

Moviegoers did manage to spend some money on non-wizard films too. Disney's Monsters, Inc. was hit hard falling 50% to $22.7M in its third weekend. After 17 days, the G-rated toon watched with one eye as its total gross climbed to an astounding $156.3M besting similar totals for other computer-animated hits. By comparison, the summer smash Shrek collected a stronger $28.2M during its third weekend last June, however its 17-day cume stood at $148.4M even though it included the Memorial Day holiday session. Disney and Pixar's last collaborative effort, 1999's Toy Story 2, grossed $140.4M in its first 19 days which included the busy Thanksgiving frame. Monsters, Inc. will have no problem cruising past $200M and will attempt to co-exist with Harry Potter in the weeks ahead as both films fight for family dollars.

The romantic comedy Shallow Hal starring Gwenyth Paltrow and Jack Black slid 46% in its sophomore session to $12.1M. After ten days, the Farrelly brothers film has taken in $40.7M for Fox and should reach about $70-75M by the end of its run.

Adult-skewing action thrillers claimed the fourth and fifth spots. Paramount's Domestic Disturbance grossed $5.4M, off 38%, bringing the total for the John Travolta picture to $33.7M. Warner Bros. collected $4.7M for Heist, down 40%, giving the Gene Hackman-Danny DeVito film $15M in ten days. The two films should reach about $50M and $30M respectively.

Suffering the worst legs of any picture this season, Sony's action film The One crumbled 55% to $4.1M putting its cume at $38.3M. The Jet Li sci-fi extravaganza should conclude with $45-50M. Universal's alien drama K-Pax dropped 51% to $3.1M giving the Kevin Spacey pic $45.3M to date. A final gross of $50-55M seems likely.

Hip hop icons Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg found themselves in eight place with the debut of their comedy The Wash which grossed $2.9M this weekend. Scrubbing cars in 749 locations, the $4M-budgeted Lions Gate release averaged a respectable $3,845 per theater and took in $3.7M since its Wednesday launch.

Enjoying the best hold in the top ten, New Line's adult drama Life as a House slipped just 31% to $2.65M. The Kevin Kline picture has taken in $9M thus far and looks headed for $17-20M. The haunted house thriller Thirteen Ghosts rounded out the top ten with $2.1M, down 52%, for a $37.7M cume. The Warner Bros. horror pic should die at $40-42M.

In limited-release activity, Artisan's dentist-on-the-run pic Novocaine debuted in 105 theaters across major markets and grossed $418,098 for a mild $3,982 average. Miramax expanded its French-language hit Amelie from 91 to 163 theaters and watched sales climb 54% to $1.3M. Averaging an encouraging $8,119 per venue, the R-rated comedy has upped its cume to $5.2M to date including sales from Canada where it was released much earlier than in the United States.

Two fall titles dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Denzel Washington's cop drama Training Day tumbled 55% to $908,870 boosting its cume to a solid $74.2M. The $50M Warner Bros. release should conclude with roughly $76M. Sony's Riding in Cars with Boys plunged 66% to $715,256 putting its total at $29.2M. Budgeted at $47M, the Drew Barrymore film looks to reach about $31M.

The top ten films grossed an astounding $150.1M which was up 5% from last year when How the Grinch Stole Christmas debuted in the top spot with $55.1M; and up 48% from 1999 when The World is Not Enough opened at number one with $35.5M.

Compared to projections, Harry Potter zoomed past my $83M forecast while The Wash was on target with my $4M five-day prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether or not Harry Potter will reach $400M domestically. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Monsters, Inc. would surpass Shrek's $267M domestic tally. Of 4,460 responses, voting was split evenly with 50.5% saying Yes and 49.5% thinking No.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the all-time biggest opening weekends. For a review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Black Knight, Spy Game, and Out Cold all open for Thanksgiving weekend.

Be sure to check BoxOfficeGuru.com all week long for expanded Harry Potter box office coverage.

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

# Title Nov 16 - 18 Nov 9 - 11 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone $ 90,294,621 3,672 1 $ 24,590 $ 90,294,621 Warner Bros.
2 Monsters, Inc. 22,716,685 45,551,028 -50.1 3,461 3 6,564 156,341,118 Buena Vista
3 Shallow Hal 12,106,586 22,518,295 -46.2 2,799 2 4,325 40,687,100 Fox
4 Domestic Disturbance 5,377,031 8,640,422 -37.8 2,881 3 1,866 33,672,327 Paramount
5 Heist 4,682,249 7,823,521 -40.2 1,891 2 2,476 15,004,225 Warner Bros.
6 The One 4,105,741 9,102,733 -54.9 2,433 3 1,688 38,274,334 Sony
7 K-Pax 3,138,750 6,387,970 -50.9 2,325 4 1,350 45,325,425 Universal
8 The Wash 2,875,067 749 1 3,839 3,711,657 Lions Gate
9 Life as a House 2,646,422 3,818,623 -30.7 1,288 4 2,055 8,998,627 New Line
10 Thirteen Ghosts 2,132,473 4,445,351 -52.0 1,627 4 1,311 37,674,219 Warner Bros.
11 Amelie 1,323,345 861,321 53.6 163 3 8,119 5,243,733 Miramax
12 Training Day 908,870 2,023,429 -55.1 855 7 1,063 74,190,371 Warner Bros.
13 The Man Who Wasn't There 893,669 1,015,856 -12.0 250 2 3,575 3,184,764 USA Films
14 Serendipity 875,313 1,616,843 -45.9 964 6 908 47,201,116 Miramax
15 Bandits 768,683 1,505,615 -48.9 875 5 878 39,793,423 MGM
16 Riding in Cars with Boys 715,256 2,105,466 -66.0 962 5 744 29,175,810 Sony
17 From Hell 684,192 1,943,452 -64.8 605 4 1,131 30,692,411 Fox
18 Novocaine 418,098 105 1 3,982 418,098 Artisan
19 Hardball 304,772 461,375 -33.9 382 9 798 38,846,498 Paramount
20 The Princess Diaries 256,104 267,227 -4.2 358 16 715 107,172,524 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 135,177,172 $ 93,635,999 44.4
Top 10 150,075,625 112,416,838 33.5
Top 20 157,223,927 122,376,869 28.5
Top 20 vs. 2000 157,223,927 151,294,676 3.9

Last Updated : November 19, 2001 at 11:45PM EST