It takes a powerful wizard to defeat "The Dark Knight," but based on early media reports, all indications are that the final episode in the onscreen Harry Potter saga, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," is on track to beat the $158.4 million opening-weekend record set by "The Dark Knight" in 2008.
Thanks to a combination of breathless, nostalgic anticipation for the last installment in the series, a raft of sold-out midnight screenings on Thursday and higher ticket prices for the first 3-D installment in the $6 billion franchise, experts are predicting that a series of records could fall by Sunday.
According to Deadline.com, the estimated two-day worldwide gross for "Deathly Hallows, Part 2" is at $142.7 million, with $82.5 million earned internationally from 43 countries, and roughly $60.2 million brought in domestically. The movie had already rolled up an estimated $45 million at the box office by Thursday before the doors had opened for a single showing.
To put that in perspective, it has already beat the $53 million that "Green Lantern" made over the course of its entire opening weekend last month.
"Potter" is opening in 4,575 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, and Deadline Hollywood predicted that based on the early tracking, it could smash the "Dark Knight" high-water mark and possibly reach $180 million in opening-weekend grosses. Another record almost sure to crumble is the biggest single day ever, which was set by "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which pulled in $72 million, a figure that could be eclipsed (pun intended) by an estimated $80 million that "Hallows" is projected to collect between the $40 million in midnight screenings and an additional $40 million on Friday.
Look for "Hallows" to also take the biggest foreign opening-weekend crown, a record recently set by "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which boosted $260 million earlier this summer. "Potter" studio Warner Bros. expects the film to smash that figure, though it's unclear if it will be able to beat the worldwide seven-day opening-gross mark set by "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which raked in $402 million in its first week in June.
A good sign, though, is that "Hallows" has already broken records Down Under. The Hollywood Reporter noted that following its midnight opening on Wednesday, it took in more than $7.4 million in its first 24 hours in Australia, smashing the previous mark of nearly $1.8 million in the first 24 hours for "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."