B.O. goes whole Hogwarts

You’re a box office wizard, Harry.

Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” etched its name in movieland history over the weekend with a record estimated bow of $93.5 million.

Three-day perf bested even the $90.2 million debut of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” over four days of the 1997 Memorial Day weekend.

Among three-day bows, the “Harry Potter” estimate compares with a previous-record $68.5 million opening for “Planet of the Apes” in July.

Family adventure also rewrote the record for one-day B.O. with $32.9 million “Harry” grossed Saturday — as well as the $31.6 million it took in Friday. Both marks eclipsed the previous-record $28.5 million rung up by “Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace” on May 19, 1999.

“Harry,” tale of a talented boy schooled in wizardry, also made the $62.2 million November-bow record for “Monsters, Inc.” disappear.

The Disney/Pixar toon finished No. 2 this weekend with an estimated $23 million in its third frame. Perf pushed cume to $156.7 million.

‘Monsters’ grabs record

In doing so, “Monsters” managed to set another mark this sesh — though one also likely to tumble under the “Harry” juggernaut. Laffer leapt past $150 million on its 17th day Sunday, or one day quicker than rival tooner “Shrek” earlier this year.

But so many people were wild about “Harry” this weekend that Warners jumped into the top spot for distribution marketshare on the strength of the perf.

Warners’ $858 million in estimated year-to-date grosses — good for a 12.3% marketshare — nipped long-running leader Universal. U comes out of the sesh with roughly $850 million, or 12.2% marketshare, with six frames left on the year.

Wide releases over the Thanksgiving weekend include U’s Robert Redford-Brad Pitt starrer “Spy Game.” Warners’ next big bow comes Dec. 7 when distrib unspools ensemble laffer “Ocean’s Eleven.”

Warners distrib topper Dan Fellman, who said “Harry” played well with ages “8 to 80,” noted the 117 million copies of J.K. Rowlings’ book series sold worldwide created a huge fan base for the film debut.

Several rival distribs penciled in lower estimates for the “Harry” bow than Warners. But Fellman said there was no sleight of hand at work and predicted official three-day data would bear out the Warners estimate today.

“Sorcerer’s Stone” is the first in a planned series of Warner Bros. pics based on the best-selling book series. Shooting on “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” begins today in London.

‘Wash’ works

Lions Gate’s “The Wash” mounted this weekend’s only other wide bow, as most distribs avoided opening pics against the “Harry” onslaught. Urban laffer, which carried an estimated negative cost of $4 million, finished No. 8 with an estimated $3 million in B.O.

“The film played well to its core audience of young, African-American males ages 18 to 24,” Lions Gate distrib boss Tom Ortenberg said.

Industrywide, the weekend’s estimated $163 million in total grosses repped a 5% improvement over the same frame last year. That’s when “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” opened at $55.1 million.

In a year-to-date comparison, 2001 is now 10% ahead of the same portion of last year at $6.93 billion, according to data from B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI.

EDI prexy Tom Borys said the record 3,672 theaters and 8,200-plus screens for “Harry” reflected both the huge demand for pic and the unprecedented size grosses made possible by super-saturation releasing.

“With all the new megaplexes, you’re able to scale your picture to the demand of the marketplace, and it really does make it possible to have huge openings,” Borys observed.

Further, highly anticipated pics like “Harry” enjoy near sellouts for most showtimes. So, it always figured “Harry” would see a record bow when distrib knew going into the frame its print run was possibly 20% higher than any pic had mounted before.

Meanwhile, a pair of soph-sesh pics avoided calamitous drops this weekend amid the “Harry” phenom.

‘Hal’ holds on

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Shallow Hal” grossed an estimated $12.7 million — an acceptable 44% less than over its opening frame — to move cume to $41.3 million. And Franchise/Warner’s “Heist” fell 40% to $4.7 million in boosting 10-day cume to $15 million.

In a specialty bow, Artisan unspooled Steve Martin starrer “Novocaine” in 105 theaters and grossed an estimated $425,000, or middling $4,050 per venue. Laffer will maintain theater count through Thanksgiving.

Miramax’s “Amelie” expanded 114 theaters to 162 and grossed an estimated $1.3 million. Solid $7,125 per-venue average pushed French-language laffer’s cume to $2.7 million prior to planned expansion to 250 locations.

USA Films’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There” expanded 72 engagements to 251 and grossed an estimated $941,055. Acceptable $3,738 theater average moved cume to $3.2 million.

And Fox Searchlight’s “Waking Life” broadened 26 playdates to 92, grossing $250,000, or $42,717 per venue. Richard Linklater tooner expands to 100 theaters next weekend.

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