‘Harry Potter’ Sets Series Record With $125 Million

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1” opened with $125 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, a record for the boy-wizard series from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.

The opening was the sixth-best of all time, behind Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight,” which took in $158.4 million in 2008, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

The “Potter” films, Hollywood’s top-grossing franchise, will end in July with the release of “Deathly Hallows -- Part 2.” The first seven, based on the books by J.K. Rowling, all opened at No. 1, with 2005’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as the previous best debut with $102.7 million, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

Box Office Guru editor Gitesh Pandya said the opening was in line with his estimate of $128 million.

“This movie has a very clearly defined audience and they tend to come out up front,” Pandya said in an interview. “I’m expecting a very large dropoff on the second weekend, but coming from $125 million it’ll still be an impressive number.”

With the final installment, the “Potter” series is expected to generate $7.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales, Warner Bros. Chief Executive Officer Barry Meyer said on a September conference call.

$1 Billion

The first six “Harry Potter” films took $5.44 billion in worldwide sales, according to Box Office Mojo. The “Star Wars” films have grossed $4.48 billion, with the “James Bond” franchise producing $3.03 billion. The numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation.

In “Deathly Hallows,” Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes, gains control of the magical world as Harry and his pals, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, go into hiding. They try to avoid capture while searching for artifacts that hold portions of the evil wizard’s soul. The returning cast includes Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.

The series so far has produced a profit of about $1 billion when income from home video, merchandise, games and other products is also tallied, according to the Time Warner studio.

“The final movie next summer will probably be even bigger,” Pandya said. “It’s too early to project numbers, but it’ll be the first movie to be in 3-D, so that will increase the ticket prices, and the fans are so obsessed with this franchise that they will pay the extra money.”

Brad Pitt

The animated comedy “Megamind,” featuring the voices of Brad Pitt and Will Ferrell, fell to second place this weekend from first, where it stood for two weeks. Including sales of $16 million in its third weekend, the movie has generated $109.3 million for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and distributor Paramount Pictures.

“Unstoppable,” an action film starring Denzel Washington, fell to third from second with $13 million in theaters its second week. In the News Corp. film, Washington plays a veteran railroad engineer and Chris Pine portrays an inexperienced conductor who try to stop a runaway train.

Warner Bros.’ “Due Date” dropped to fourth place from third with $8.9 million. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr. as a man trying to get home in time for the birth of his first child.

“The Next Three Days,” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., opened in fifth place with $6.5 million. The movie stars Russell Crowe as a husband who attempts to break his wife out of prison.

The weekend’s top 12 films grossed $186.4 million, down 25 percent from a year earlier, according to Hollywood.com. This year’s domestic box office increased to $9.36 billion, up 2.4 percent from a year earlier. Attendance is down 2.7 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for Nov. 19 to Nov. 21.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 HARRY POTTER        125.0    4,125   30,307    --   125.0    1
2 MEGAMIND             16.0    3,779    4,237   -45   109.3    3
3 UNSTOPPABLE          13.0    3,209    4,053   -43    41.9    2
4 DUE DATE              8.9    3,229    2,760   -42    72.4    3
5 THE NEXT THREE DAYS   6.5    2,564    2,552    --     6.5    1
6 MORNING GLORY         5.2    2,544    2,044   -43    19.8    2
7 SKYLINE               3.6    2,883    1,235   -70    17.8    2
8 RED                   2.5    2,034    1,221   -50    83.6    6
9 FOR COLORED GIRLS     2.3    1,216    1,891   -65    34.4    3
10 FAIR GAME            1.5      386    3,772    43     3.7    3
11 SECRETARIAT          1.0    1,010      962   -56    56.4    7
12 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY  0.9    1,101      859   -68    83.6    5


Top 12 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $186.4        $250.0      -25.4


Year-to-date Revenue

     2010          2009
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $9,361        $9,138       +2.4

Year-to-date Attendance:      -2.7%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Bradley Keoun in New York at bkeoun@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net.

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