'Deathly Hallows' a sure bet to reign at box office

Ben Fritz
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — This weekend's box-office race should be over by 12:01 a.m. on Friday.

Warner Bros.' hugely anticipated "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1" has already sold out more than 3,900 midnight screenings Thursday night and will quite possibly surpass the midnight ticket sales record of more than $30 million set in June by "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."

In any event, the seventh "Harry Potter" movie is assured the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office. People who have seen pre-release audience surveys said it's likely to gross at least $120 million in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday and even has a shot at breaking the all-time opening weekend record, not accounting for inflation, of $158.4 million set by Warner Bros.' Batman movie "The Dark Knight" in 2008.

It is almost certain to enjoy the biggest weekend opening for any "Harry Potter" film. The previous high mark of $103 million was set by 2005's "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire"; however, the 2007 and 2009 sequels opened on Wednesdays in summer, making comparisons difficult.

The last three "Harry Potter" films have all ultimately grossed about $300 million domestically and about $650 million internationally, and "Deathly Hallows" will likely do the same. Given that audiences increasingly want to see "Potter" films as soon as they open, ticket sales for the films have become more front-loaded.

The latest installment will get a boost toward continuing that trend by opening on 239 digital and large-format Imax screens, which carry higher ticket prices. Last year's Harry Potter sequel "Half-Blood Prince" opened at only three Imax theaters, as most at the time were still playing "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Already Imax theaters have sold out virtually every seat for midnight screenings of "Deathly Hallows.".

In total, online ticket sellers Fandango and have together sold out more than 5,200 screenings for the weekend. "Deathly Hallows" is the No. 3 pre-seller of all time on Fandango and No. 4 on

The film's reviews have been mostly positive, but not unanimously so.

It is also opening simultaneously in every major foreign country except France and South Korea and should collect more than $200 million overseas by Sunday. "Half-Blood Prince" grossed $237 million from international markets on its first weekend, a mark that "Deathly Hallows" will quite possibly beat.

That should make it extremely profitable for Warner Bros., despite the movie's high cost. The last "Potter" movie cost $250 million to produce and the new one likely carried a similar price tag, though costs may have been mitigated a bit because it and next summer's "Deathly Hallows — Part 2" were shot together. Marketing and producing film prints for a worldwide event movie like "Harry Potter" typically cost about $150 million.

Profitability is far less certain for the only movie bold enough to open against the boy wizard, the Russell Crowe thriller "The Next Three Days." The Lionsgate production is tracking for a weak opening of less than $10 million, meaning it will need to generate very strong word-of-mouth and keep selling tickets for the next several weeks to become a hit. Reviews for the film, which is most appealing to adult men according to pre-release surveys, have been mixed.

Lionsgate spent about $35 million to make the movie, which was co-written and directed by Paul Haggis of "Crash" fame, and another $28 million to market it. The studio has already made about $25 million of its investment back by selling overseas distribution rights, minimizing its financial exposure in the domestic market.





'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?


Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.


IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.


Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.


PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.