Entertainment behind the scenes
‘Harry Potter’ sales fail to live up to opening weekend hype
Remember the breathless reports concerning the record-breaking opening of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in July?
The 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.