Weekend Box Office (November 19 - 21, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Wizard fans united and sent the much-hyped fantasy sequel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 soaring to the number one spot with a massive opening weekend of $125M, according to final studio figures, making it the highest-grossing debut ever in the seven-film series. Launching ultrawide in 4,125 theaters, including a record 239 IMAX locations, the dark PG-13 adventure averaged a sensational $30,307 per site and ranks as the sixth best opening weekend of all-time behind The Dark Knight ($158.4M), Spider-Man 3 ($151.1M), The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142.8M), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($135.6M), and this year's Iron Man 2 ($128.1M). IMAX accounted for 10% of the opening weekend tally with $12.4M with many upcoming shows already sold out.

For the wizard franchise, it was the best debut of any kind. The highest Friday-to-Sunday opening before was $102.7M for 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which launched on the same November Friday while the top gross for the first three days of release was $107M for the last installment, 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which bowed on a Wednesday in the summer. Ticket price increases helped set a new franchise record as Hallows, Goblet, and 2001's original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone each sold roughly 16 million tickets on opening weekend. The fan base has remained relatively constant but moviegoers pay more for a stub with every film.

Still, it was a monumental performance and ranks as the second best ever outside of the busy summer tentpole season behind just New Moon which attacked this very weekend last year. Deathly Hallows even performed the same way throughout the weekend with a 38% Friday-to-Saturday drop compared to Moon's 42%. Both franchises are based on wildly popular books with fans obsessed with coming out on the first day, especially for Thursday night post-midnight shows. The new Potter banked an incredible $24M for those showtimes.

Looking at the daily journey, the first half of the two-part finale exploded on Friday with $61.7M including midnight shows, fell sharply to $38.2M on Saturday, and dipped 34% to $25.1M on Sunday, according to Warner Bros. The turnout was extremely front-loaded with the opening day tally accounting for a whopping 49% of the weekend haul. Similarly, New Moon's first day was 51% of the three-day figure and it tumbled by 70% on the second weekend despite it being the Thanksgiving holiday.

Reviews were mostly positive for the new wizard tale and cast and crew made the usual rounds for their global publicity push including glitzy premieres on both sides of the Atlantic in London and New York. David Yates directed as he did for the last two installments and his final offering, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is set to open next summer on Friday, July 15, in 3D two weeks after the third Transformers pic and a week before Captain America: First Avenger both of which will also be in 3D. The studio had wanted to make Part 1 in 3D but was unable to complete the conversion in time to make a product good enough for the fans.

Overseas, the latest installment was as gigantic as expected and grossed a colossal $205M from 54 countries and 91 markets resulting in a monstrous $330M global launch over the first weekend. The last film Prince bowed mid-week and debuted to $394M worldwide but over five days. Deathly Hallows set a new all-time opening weekend record in the U.K. with a $29.4M haul. Other notable bows included $22.6M in Germany, $14.8M in Australia, $14M in Japan, $12.9M in Russia, $11M in Italy, $10.2M in Mexico, and $10.6M in China.

Get daily Harry Potter box office updates all week by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

The 3D animated film Megamind was booted from the top spot after two weeks at number one and finished the weekend in a distant second place. DreamWorks Animation's latest hit held up reasonably well dropping 45% to $16M pushing the 17-day tally across the century mark to $109.3M. Paramount is still on a course to hit the $150M mark although Disney will unleash the rival 3D toon Tangled on Wednesday to give families another major option over the extended Thanksgiving holiday session.

Fox enjoyed an encouraging second weekend take for the Denzel Washington actioner Unstoppable which dropped 43% to $13M. The runaway train pic has taken in a solid $41.9M in ten days and is headed for the $75M vicinity.

Finishing in fourth place was the R-rated road trip comedy Due Date which declined by 42% to $8.9M. Warner Bros. has taken in $72.4M in 17 days and should end up in the $90-100M range depending on strength over the long Thanksgiving holiday.

Audiences gave the cold shoulder once again to Russell Crowe whose latest film The Next Three Days flopped opening to only $6.5M. The PG-13 film about a teacher who desperately tries to break his wife out of prison averaged a weak $2,517 from 2,564 locations giving Lionsgate its worst debut in almost two years. Elizabeth Banks co-starred and Liam Neeson contributed a one-scene cameo while Oscar winner Paul Haggis directed. Crowe's last film - the expensive summer epic Robin Hood - barely inched its way over the $100M mark in North America and his recent adult dramas have mostly opened in the $13-14M range.

Paramount's TV industry comedy Morning Glory fell a moderate 44% in its second weekend grossing $5.2M to boost the ten-day total to a soft $19.8M. The Rachel McAdams film looks to end with $32-34M. Fellow sophomore Skyline completely fell apart thanks to poor buzz. The Universal release dropped 70% to $3.6M for a cume of $17.8M in ten days. With a reported production budget of $10M, plus plenty more for marketing, the alien flick could end with $21-23M. Summit's action hit Red grossed $2.5M, off 50%, for a $83.6M total.

Falling 65% to $2.3M was Lionsgate's For Colored Girls... which has banked $34.4M to date. Jumping into the top ten for the first time was the CIA thriller Fair Game which expanded in its third frame from 175 to 386 theaters collecting $1.5M. The average for the Summit release was a mild $3,772 and the sum rose to $3.7M.

The top ten films grossed $184.4M which was down 25% from last year when The Twilight Saga: New Moon opened in the top spot with $142.8M; but up 19% from 2008 when Twilight debuted at number one with $69.6M.

Compared to projections, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 opened very close to my $128M forecast while The Next Three Days debuted below my $11M prediction.

Check the UPDATED box office charts for the Top Opening Weekends, Top Opening Days, and Top November Openings.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 and the Toy Story 3 DVD, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Tangled, Faster, Burlesque, and Love and Other Drugs all squeeze into multiplexes for the turkey holiday.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Nov 19 - 21 Nov 12 - 14 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Part 1 $ 125,017,372 4,125 1 $ 30,307 $ 125,017,372 Warner Bros.
2 Megamind 16,012,831 29,120,461 -45.0 3,779 3 4,237 109,313,429 Paramount
3 Unstoppable 13,005,855 22,688,457 -42.7 3,209 2 4,053 41,867,769 Fox
4 Due Date 8,912,182 15,419,042 -42.2 3,229 3 2,760 72,431,594 Warner Bros.
5 The Next Three Days 6,452,779 2,564 1 2,517 6,452,779 Lionsgate
6 Morning Glory 5,200,233 9,203,266 -43.5 2,544 2 2,044 19,823,136 Paramount
7 Skyline 3,560,985 11,692,415 -69.5 2,883 2 1,235 17,772,760 Universal
8 Red 2,483,043 4,973,539 -50.1 2,034 6 1,221 83,589,965 Summit
9 For Colored Girls... 2,299,956 6,517,280 -64.7 1,216 3 1,891 34,439,653 Lionsgate
10 Fair Game 1,455,819 1,020,654 42.6 386 3 3,772 3,724,546 Summit
11 Secretariat 971,909 2,205,163 -55.9 1,010 7 962 56,378,503 Buena Vista
12 Paranormal Activity 2 945,460 2,980,201 -68.3 1,101 5 859 83,583,230 Paramount
13 The Social Network 935,677 1,770,077 -47.1 571 8 1,639 89,244,464 Sony
14 127 Hours 916,533 438,539 109.0 108 3 8,486 1,902,336 Fox Searchlight
15 Saw 3D 846,029 2,862,449 -70.4 806 4 1,050 45,287,175 Lionsgate
16 Jackass 3D 737,351 2,235,457 -67.0 687 6 1,073 116,094,442 Paramount
17 Life As We Know It 536,379 1,294,110 -58.6 558 7 961 51,630,962 Warner Bros.
18 Guzaarish 488,121 108 1 4,520 488,121 UTV
19 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 401,819 520,085 -22.7 185 4 2,172 3,433,116 Music Box
20 Inside Job 338,938 478,767 -29.2 185 7 1,832 2,139,393 Sony Classics
Top 5 $ 169,401,019 $ 88,123,641 92.2
Top 10 184,401,055 107,692,567 71.2
Top 20 191,519,271 117,787,699 62.6
Top 20 vs. 2009 191,519,271 255,278,182 -25.0

Last Updated: November 22, 2010 at 6:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.