Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

‘Harry Potter’ sales fail to live up to opening weekend hype

By Dean Goodman
August 31, 2009

Remember the breathless reports concerning the record-breaking opening of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in July?

emmaThe sixth movie in the fantasy franchise surpassed “Spider-Man 3″ to set new worldwide ($394 million) and foreign ($236 million) records, and its North American tally ($158.0 million) was $18 million higher than that of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” two years earlier. (Note: Data are slightly different in the link as they were estimates, and the final figures were issued the following day.)

“Phoenix” ended up with $938 million worldwide, the seventh-biggest movie of all time before accounting for inflation. So it was only natural to assume that the new one might have a chance to become the first in the series to crack $1 billion.

Not so fast. It turns out “Spider-Man 3″ ($891 million) was a better benchmark for the film. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” has earned $905.4 million after opening at No. 1 during the weekend in its last market, Greece. It’s the biggest movie of the year, the third-biggest in the series and the 12th biggest of all time. If it can squeeze out an extra $15 million, it will crack the top 10. BUT, it won’t get to $1 billion.

The North American total of $294.3 million just passed “Phoenix” ($292 million) to trail only the $317.5 million haul for 2001′s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which ended up with $975 million worldwide. Its foreign total stands at $611.1 million, but that’s quite a bit short of the $700 million forecast by Variety on the basis of that opening weekend.

Warner Bros. Pictures, which leads the studio field with eight No. 1 openings in North America this year, never publicly issued forecasts and an executive declined during opening weekend to discuss the billion-dollar possibility. Still, when studios trumpet record-breaking launches, boosted by ticket-price inflation, premium-priced IMAX screenings and simultaneous worldwide roll-outs, not even young wizards are immune to market forces for long.


Oh my goodness! Close the studios, you just can’t make a buck anymore. Those poor actors might only make $20 million apiece for the next film. You certainly cannot have a lifestyle or raise a family on that paltry sum. And the poor studio, it might only clear a couple of hundred million, too bad. Maybe we can start a charity for them. This article is very newsworthy and realistic. Walk the streets of Chicago, and then tell me how bad you feel for the movie industry. All of you get a life.


Yeah, and the movie was by far the worst of the series. Boring, slow, uneventful, and looked like a cheap screeners copy. Just because it brings in loads of money doesn’t mean it’s a good movie.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Agreed, Jason. I’m a fan of the books and movies, and have eagerly awaited each and every one. And I literally fell asleep in Half-Blood Prince. It was a gauranteed money maker, but if there was anyone else like me, not only was I not going to spend more money on ever-rising ticket costs to see a boring and disappointing movie, I wasn’t recommending it to anyone else.

Posted by Raven | Report as abusive

Why the average person should give a crap about the box office figures for ANY movie is beyond me. While most people in the world are suffering, and can’t even CONCEIVE of earning a million dollars in a lifetime, we’re supposed to care about how much a blockbuster movie earns? Or the filthy rich stars who appear in them? Nope…not me. I haven’t paid to see a first-run movie in about 10 years and I doubt if I ever will again.

Posted by Jaybone | Report as abusive

i wasnt to terribly impressed with this movie as i have been with the others. It seems the others have always been good wins over evil…this last one…not so much.


Mainstream movies bore me. When money is the primary motivation for making a movie, the qualilty is going to suffer. Movies made for the purpose of art, education, or for making people think about the world around them are much more entertaining and worthwhile.

Harry Potter didn’t make $1-billion? Boo hoo.

Posted by David Ellis | Report as abusive

Harry Potter is the bset people. Of course the books are always betterb than the movies, but the movies were not that bad, and i think half blod prince was the funniest of them all.


Harry Potter is the highest grossing movie franchise, more than Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pirates, Spiderman etc. Plus Harry Potter has consistently improved movie after movie, which other movie franchises fail at. Half Blood Prince was a perfect set up for the final chapter and brought new light to the characters. This movie was the most impressive out of the other HP films, just cause it didnt have enough action dont blask the film! The last two movies ( the last book) has soo much action that the director didnt want to make the fights repetitive.

Posted by hello1 | Report as abusive

This last Harry Potter film made 983 million so far, why print an article that suggests in some way that it was a failure, I thought the movie was great, nice to see a good clean movie that isn’t full of sex that is marketed toward teens

Posted by alaina | Report as abusive

I think it was a great movie, and it was succesful considering the delay, that there no more HP books. The first weekend worldwide outpas all the “twilight” run, is the number one movie of the year worldwide, this movie makes the harry potter saga in the most profitable in franchise history. This movie closed the decade of Harry Potter, even if it no makes one billion dolars.

Posted by siriuslm | Report as abusive

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