After years of waiting, wizard wackos and fantasy freaks will finally get their peek at Harry Potter on the big screen, as ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” hits a record number of movie theaters this weekend.
Blasting into 3,672 locations (and what’s said to be an unheard-of 8,000 movie screens, amounting to 20 percent of all those in the U.S. and Canada), ”Harry Potter” should break all existing box office records, judging from higher-than-ever ticket prices and ”Star Wars”-level anticipation for the film.
So what does the PG-rated family flick need to gross in order to break the record? Well, the biggest three-day openings belong to this summer’s ”Planet of the Apes” ($68.5 million) and 1997’s ”The Lost World: Jurassic Park” ($72.1 million), which was helped by its Memorial Day weekend positioning.
But those benchmarks will surely be history after this weekend. True, many of the tickets sold will be at lower-priced kid rates, and the film is two-and-a-half hours long, meaning fewer showings per day. But those 8,000 movie screens will assure that in many multiplexes it’ll run every half hour. Therefore, ”Harry” should have no problem earning $75-80 million.
Moviegoers who find themselves shut out of ”Potter” showings will likely opt for ”Monsters, Inc.” (even if they’ve already seen it). So the Disney smash will post another strong weekend. Look for a small drop — in the 30 percent range — and a third-weekend take of $32 million to earn the No. 2 spot.
After debuting impressively with $22.5 million last weekend, Gwyneth Paltrow’s fat-centric comedy ”Shallow Hal” is likely to fall 40 or 45 percent to $12-13 million to take No. 3. Jet Li’s fight drama ”The One” should drop to No. 4 with around $5 million.
The fifth slot will go either to John Travolta’s underperforming drama ”Domestic Disturbance” or to the only other movie with the guts to open this weekend, the Snoop Dogg/Dr. Dre comedy ”The Wash.” Each should score about $4 million, as even some of Snoop and Dre’s biggest fans are probably more excited about Harry Potter.
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