After opening to $102.7 million in ticket sales the weekend before Thanksgiving 2005, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" swept through to the post-holiday weekend and picked up another $54.7 million -- just a 47-percent drop from its opening numbers.
Five years later, in a return to a November release, [article id="1653128"]"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1"[/article] succeeded in notching the franchise's highest 10-day launch ever. But that hefty total (an estimated $220.4 million domestically) is less impressive considering the latest boy wizard flick is only the third-largest installment in terms of actual attendance, according to Box Office Mojo.
Still, it would be enormously impressive if "Deathly Hallows, Part 1" could sustain that 10-day head start and become the highest-grossing movie in the series. Unfortunately, many observers believe that just isn't going to happen.
"I don't think 'Deathly Hallows' will be the top-grossing 'Potter' film, or even the second biggest, despite the higher ticket prices," Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru said, noting the film's 61 percent drop from its opening weekend. "It's running 9 percent ahead of 'Goblet of Fire' over the same release span and its lead is shrinking."
At an $895 million worldwide total, "Goblet of Fire" stands as the fourth-highest-grossing film in the series, well behind "Sorcerer's Stone" with $974.7 million (#8 on the all-time list). "Deathly Hallows, Part 1" should have little trouble eclipsing that "Goblet of Fire" sum, and some box-office experts even suggest it could zip past "Sorcerer's Stone" to become the first franchise installment to break the $1 billion mark.
"This has a very real shot at hitting $1 billion worldwide since it already has more than $600 million in the bank," Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com, said. "I could see it breaking into the top five all-time worldwide earners."
While opinions differ on where "Deathly Hallows, Part 1" will end up, one thing is certain: Warner Bros. is awfully happy about the film's performance. And when you add in home video and merchandise sales, the financial picture gets even rosier. It'll be rosier still come next year when "Deathly Hallows, Part 2" arrives -- quite possibly with an inflated 3-D ticket price.
" 'Part 2' will certainly out-gross 'Part 1' and has a chance of becoming the top-grossing 'Potter' in the eight-film series," Pandya said. "New fans aren't joining the party, but the base is large enough to keep the series going."