November 22, 2010

Box Office Wrap-Up: We're Still Wild About Harry (Not So Wild About Everything Else)

It's the beginning of the end for Potter & Co.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the huge winner this weekend was the first part of the epic finale to the long-running Harry Potter film series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I raked in $130 million this weekend, the highest grossing opening for the film series yet. Harry didn't even have to go 3-D in order to get there, too; while some of the revenue was from IMAX screenings, that was as fancy as it got. 

Deathly Hallows is practically the only big ticket non-3-D film in a holiday season where everything from TRON: Legacy to Yogi Bear is getting the 3-D treatment. Not that Potter's success is surprising. Warner Brothers could release the film in Pig Latin, and with the characters portrayed by Popsicle sticks instead of actors, and still make a mint.

Reviews seem to be solidly positive from Potter fans and critics alike. Lisa Schwarzbaum, of Entertainment Weekly had nothing but high praise, calling Part I “the most cinematically rewarding chapter [of the series] yet.” Roger Ebert chimed in with his own accolades for the “handsome and sometimes harrowing film.” Ebert, like many others, cautioned viewers that coming into the movie cold without a decent grasp on all things Harry Potter would only lead to confusion: the days of Hogwarts 101 are most decidedly over. The choice to split the mammoth final book into two films has been largely hailed as an inspired choice: instead of the need to whisk the audience from spectacle to spectacle, the film gives characters and audience alike room to breathe.

The rest of the top ten was deprived of the cash that Deathly Hallows scared up; overall box office grosses for the weekend were down compared to earlier years. While Megamind slipped into the number two slot, for example, it only did so with $15 million to its name, a far cry from $130 million. The major counter-release of the weekend, The Next Three Days, settled for a disappointing fifth place and $6.8 million dollars. The dramatic thriller, featuring Russell Crowe as a mild-mannered man on a quest to prove his wife's innocence, was criticized as uninspired and unconvincing. Roger Ebert held some particular scorn for the project, calling The Next Three Days a waste of the top notch talent of Crowe, co-star Elizabeth Banks, and director Paul Haggis.

The remainder of the top ten holds little surprises: train-set thriller Unstoppable clocked in at third for the weekend, while Due Date held steady at fourth. Valerie Plame biopic Fair Game, currently playing in a limited release schedule, managed to surface at tenth place with $1.4 million. Most of the stragglers should expect to be knocked out of the running come Wednesday, when the big Thanksgiving releases like Burlesque and Disney's Tangled start landing.

Here's the full top ten:
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (MRQE Metric: 71) -  $130 million
  2. Megamind (MRQE Metric: 67) - $15.5 million
  3. Unstoppable (MRQE Metric: 69) - $13.5 million
  4. Due Date (MRQE Metric: 51) - $8.7 million
  5. The Next Three Days (MRQE Metric: 56) - $6.8 million
  6. Morning Glory (MRQE Metric: 63) - $5.3 million
  7. Skyline (MRQE Metric: 35) - $3.1 million
  8. Red (MRQE Metric: 65) - $2.3 million
  9. For Colored Girls (MRQE Metric: 54) - $2.2 million
  10. Fair Game (MRQE Metric: 69) - $1.4 million


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