Harry Potter this way doth come, dollars & cents fuel franchise feathered juggernaut.
The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 juggernaut hit theaters on midnight and hasn’t stopped barreling through the record books ever since. Part 2 quickly exceeded all expectations with a tally of $92.1 million dollars at the box office to become the biggest single day opening of a film of all times. By the end of the weekend it cleared $169 million dollars and four days later theaters collected an unprecedented half a billion dollars – yes, that’s “B” for billion, “B” for bam! All told, Potter 2 also earned bragging rights as the highest midnight opening, weekend opening and global opening weekend of all time – all time! There are surely other records, those yet counted and those yet to come there’s plenty of time for counting and collecting receipts.
It is far too simplistic to pick a path, choose a ticket stub and see you in the theater or don’t waste your time. Hands down fans have shown their enthusiasm – and then some. The naysayers pick at the sequel machine, claiming among other things that the splitting of the last two films was little more than marketing and dollar incentive based. Others are equally less enthused, though obviously a minority. It is safe to say the film has joined the company of similarly smashing successes like James Bond, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings franchise epics, climbing over the earlier success of Half-Blood Prince which debuted at nearly $330 million opening weekend – the highest in the series. Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the third-highest grossing film of 2010 behind Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland. Part 2 should easily beat out The Dark Knight’s $158.4 million opening weekend record and where it goes from there is up, baby up.
It should be no surprise that Part 2 has been building toward a massive climax for some time. The inevitable end of the series has loomed ever near, made most prominent last year with the first installment in a two-part final movie to coincide with the last two books by rags-to-riches starlet J.K. Rowling. In short order fashion she skyrocketed from next to no one to house hold name, best seller, movie mogul and gazionnaire. Harry Potter has achieved a level of success that can only fully be known in the months to come. In an era where everything must be bigger, better, costlier and better-selling than all competitors across time and space, there seems little doubt Potter will cut a deep and lasting impression in pop culture cinema for generations to come.
In a movie franchise that is coming to a close, the Harry Potter films are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Before the films, and what must have been a bidding war for the movie rights, the novels took the publishing world by storm, quickly becoming one of the most beloved and successful series of all times. The Potter universe of books, movies and merchandise are estimated to be worth a cool $15 billion dollars world-wide; and we’re not even done counting Deathly Hallows Part 2 or what awaits us as the pearly gates of the online pottermore universe scheduled to open later this year.
It is unclear if Part 2 will actually end the series or if somewhere down the line another film will appear on the Hollywood horizon. We’ve seen it before. Some films end with a period and a resounding gasp of relief – Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, etc., etc. Others drag on with life support clauses and prequel pre-nups, revived and reconstituted. Every now and again it works – J.J Abrams managed to resuscitate the aging, derelict Star Trek (2009) franchise with a single prequel. Lucas turned the entire Star Wars Empire on end with a rapid fire succession of three new films that were, sadly prequels to the earlier films; whether or not this was a good thing depends on who you ask. The one thing that is certain of fans of Potter that many are in a love-hate relationship with the final installment; excited and saddened at the same time as the boy wizard becomes a man and everything moves fast toward screening to a close. The international fandom community stretches across many different forms of media, including conventions, tours of the actual locations for the film, fan web sites, fiction, podcasts, art and songvids. Though hard pressed to give up their title, Potter fans have even surpassed the long distance marathon of Trekdom – Next stop, pottermore.