Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Jul 15 - 17): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Winnie the Pooh

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2156$35,657 PTA
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon20.6-56.3%
3. Horrible Bosses16.0-43.5%
4. Zookeeper10.0-50.2%
5. Winnie the Pooh8.0$3,326 PTA
6. Cars 27.8-48.7%
7. Bad Teacher4.7-47.3%
8. Larry Crowne3.0-49.5%
9. Super 82.3-52.5%
10. Monte Carlo1.3-65.8%

Some crazy numbers are being thrown around for the potential opening weekend gross of the Harry Potter finale, including $180m from a Deadline Hollywood article. Yes, it will shatter the midnight record of $30m that Eclipse set and claim the opening day record as well from another Twilight film, New Moon. However, with such a massive midnight start - there is a possibility that the midnight alone could outgross the rest of Friday, a Saturday drop of over 50% from the opening day becomes very likely, and in order to break The Dark Knight's opening weekend record of $158m, let alone reach the height of $180m (a ridiculous number IMO), a $85m+ Friday could be required.

Here is how I see the dailies will break down. For midnight shows, let us assume 40% of the sales are for 3D screens, and each 3D ticket represents a 35% premium in price, then for the same overall admissions, 3D will help raise the gross by 0.4*0.35 = 0.14 or 14%. With how the midnight culture has grown over the years, the finale factor, and this being on a Friday, I'll project a 20% admissions growth from Eclipse, giving a midnight figure of $30m * 1.2 * 1.14 = $41m.

For the rest of the weekend, I will assume 3D represents 35% of the ticket sales, so a uptick of 0.35*0.35 = 12.25% in dollars. Four of the first five films in the series grossed around $33m from the opening day when excluding midnight, and the last two saw some small increases, with the last one making $37.7m. I'll give this one $38.3m without the premium, or an actual figure of 38.3*1.1225 = $43m. So for the opening day, we are looking at a $84m.

From the chart I posted in a previous blog entry, we see that the only time a Harry Potter opened on a summer Friday, it dropped 5% on Saturday, and that was in early June when not all the schools were out yet instead of the middle of July. The Deathly Hallows Part I saw just a tiny Saturday increase even though it was in November, so a Saturday drop here from Friday without midnight seems likely, although the pure strength of sellouts from the previous day will help push some business over. A 5% drop will put Saturday number at around $41m.

Sunday number has been the most consistent, with the drops from 3 previous summer Harry Potter releases at 24%, 18.9%, and 25.5%. A 25% decline here will give it a $31m Sunday. Then the total for the weekend will be 84+41+31 = $156m. However, if they are that close to The Dark Knight's record, one can't help but wonder if Warner Bros, a studio, along with a few others, that is never shy of making some number tricks out of the hat, will attempt to push it over.

Midnight - $41m
Friday w/o midnight - $43m
Friday - $84m
Saturday - $41m (-4.7% from Friday w/o midnight, -51.2% from Friday overall)
Sunday - $31m (-24.4%)
Weekend - $156m

Among holdovers, Transformers 3 appears to be the most logical choice to benefit from spillover business that all the Harry Potter sellouts will certainly produce; on the other hand, it will also have to face one of the more difficult tasks of losing a lot of 3D and IMAX screens. How the two factors balance each other will be very interesting to observe. If both Harry Potter 7.2 and Transformers 3 had been in 2D as it was the case for the previous two times they met in July, the latter probably would have experienced a 60% Friday increase, but the loss of 3D screens means the majority of the spillover business it receives will be from 2D, and it will result in a decrease in per-theater-average. A 10% dip there will push the Friday increase down to 45% (160% / 1.1 - 1). The Saturday jump will be higher though when the Harry Potter fever subsides a little, as both of the previous Transformers increased close to 34% on the Saturday a Harry Potter film opened. That will give a weekend total close to $21m, which, under the circumstance, is actually not bad. Hancock had a very similar drop against The Dark Knight on its 3rd weekend, but then recovered fine after and had a 3.56 multiplier from that point on. The same multiplier will put Transformers 3's total at $355m. From where I see, the battle for the yearly crown between the two heavyweights will be extremely close.

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