Harry Potter Rules! (The Dark Knight and Carmageddon Schooled!)

Deathly Hallows: Part 2 grosses estimated $168.6 million Friday-Sunday to smash Batman film's opening-weekend box-office record; Los Angeles freeway shutdown fails to curb frenzy

By Joal Ryan Jul 18, 2011 7:00 AMTags
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UPDATE: Final numbers released today put Harry Potter's record-setting weekend take at $169.2 million.


The boy who lived is living it up.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scored the largest debut in Hollywood history with a $168.6 million Friday-Sunday gross, estimates showed.

On its way to the record, the franchise's farewell film defeated no less than The Dark Knight—and showed no quit against Los Angeles' much-feared freeway shutdown

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"It actually had no effect whatsoever," Warner Bros. exec Dan Fellman said about the would-be traffic-snarler known as Carmageddon. "The two major cinemas most directly affected [by the closure]…both did outstanding business."

It was that kind of weekend for Harry Potter: Nothing could stop him.

Among the records set by Deathly Hallows Part 2 were: biggest-ever midnight take ($43.5 million); biggest-ever opening day and single day ($92.1 million); and, biggest-ever IMAX opening ($15.5 million).

The Dark Knight set the previous opening-weekend record in 2008 with a $158.4 million Friday-Sunday.

Outside of the United States, HP8 was just as big—make that, bigger.

Its international opening-weekend total of $307million blew away the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie to stand as the biggest-ever overseas opening.

Put it all together, and in the last three days, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has grossed $475.6 million worldwide—yet another record. 

Business was undoubtedly boosted by 3-D and IMAX ticket prices, but nearly 60 percent of Deathly Hallows Part 2's domestic take came from 2-D theaters.

Everything about the Harry Potter film was so huge that a factoid like Transformers: Dark of the Moon breaking the $300 million mark here seemed almost puny by comparison. 


Dark of the Moon now ranks 35th among Hollywood's all-time domestic box-office champs.

Elsewhere, poor Winnie the Pooh got trampled, while second-week comedies Horrible Bosses and Zookeeper held well, all wizardly things considered.

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris returned to the Top 10.

Selena Gomez's Monte Carlo and Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern both dropped out of the Top 10. The former ended up making back its $20 million budget; the latter still hasn't come close to its $200 million price tag. Per Box Office Mojo, Green Lantern is at $146 million worldwide.  

The Sarah Palin documentary, The Undefeated, meanwhile, was said to have been averaging an OK $5,000 from its 10 screens through Saturday night. The real limited-release star, however, was Sholem Aleichem, a new doc on the writer whose stories provided the basis for Fiddler on the Roof. It grossed $23,000 at one screen.

The weekend's highest per-screen average was posted by a wide-release film.

And, yes, the wide-release film was Harry Potter.  

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top-grossing films, per Friday-Sunday estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, $168.6 million
  2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, $21.3 million
  3. Horrible Bosses, $17.6 million
  4. Zookeeper, $12.3 million
  5. Cars 2, $8.3 million
  6. Winnie the Pooh, $8 million 
  7. Bad Teacher, $5.2 million
  8. Larry Crowne, $2.6 million
  9. Super 8, $1.9 million
  10. Midnight in Paris, $1.89 million

(Originally published July 17, 2011, at 9:22 a.m. PT)