Five movies are opening in wide release over the Thanksgiving frame, but they’re all fighting for second place.
Blame it on the wizard: For the second week in a row, the movie biz will be dominated by Harry Potter.
Openers jostling for second place are Sony/Revolution’s musical adaptation of “Rent,” New Line comedy “Just Friends,” Lions Gate’s Usher starrer “In the Mix,” Paramount and Sony/MGM family remake “Yours, Mine and Ours” and Focus comedy “The Ice Harvest.”
It’s the most films to open in wide release since April 30, 2004.
Also in the mix: Focus’ “Pride and Prejudice,” which goes wide after two weeks of limited release, and Fox’s “Walk the Line,” which had a strong bow of $22.4 million last week.
A week after its holiday season record-breaking $102.7 million bow, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is set to repeat its domination of the box office with a five-day gross that could reach above $80 million.
Four years ago, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” also had its second weekend over Thanksgiving following a $90.3 million bow. It grossed a Thanksgiving frame record $83.5 million.
It’s also a big weekend for “Harry” overseas. WB will launch “Goblet” this weekend in 23 territories, including Japan, where “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” dazzled with more than $121 million — by far the best foreign gross for the pic.
Tracking young with a female skew, Sony/Revolution’s “Rent” is bowing with 2,433 plays. Pic faces the challenges of any musical, along with somewhat dated subject matter: the AIDS crisis in the late ’80s. But it has a core audience who loved the musical and a timeless love story based on “La Boheme” that could draw women and their dates.
In February 2003, “Chicago” made $10.7 million in its first weekend of wide release on 1,841 screens. But that was over three days and after seven weeks of limited play and a slew of awards.
“Yours, Mine and Ours,” which carries the names of four studios — Par, Nickelodeon, Sony and MGM — before its title, has the biggest potential take, as it’s bowing on the most screens by far: 3,200. But family pic is also the closest competitor to “Harry Potter,” which means it has to count mostly on auds that have already seen that pic or can’t get into sold-out screenings.
“I think there’s a synergy created, and the business should benefit overall from the volume of people going through theaters right now,” Par distribution prexy Wayne Llewellen said.
Focus’ “Pride & Prejudice” has performed extraordinarily well for the past two weeks on just over 200 screens, coming in at No. 10 for both frames. In an unusual occurrence for an indie, Focus has a second wide release this weekend, the Harold Ramis-helmed comedy “The Ice Harvest,” bowing on 1,550.
Its closest competitor is New Line’s “Just Friends,” hitting 2,505. While not expected to break out, the Ryan Reynolds starrer is tracking almost exclusively with a young demo.
“In the Mix” is also likely to appeal to young women as well as African-Americans. Pic will debut on 1,608 screens.
In foreign markets, rival distribs are once again getting out of the way of “Potter.”
The cautious approach by rivals is warranted due to stellar past performance of the three “Potter” pics in foreign markets, with cumulative grosses at $1.8 billion — more than double the domestic total.
Even though “Goblet” opened in only 19 foreign territories, the international opening weekend of $85.5 million trailed the domestic total by only $17 million; with key additional offshore markets opening this weekend, foreign cume could exceed the Stateside cume by the end of this weekend.
The soph sesh performance by “The Prisoner of Azkaban” portends a massive weekend for “Goblet.” During the second weekend of June 2004, the foreign box office for the former totaled $65.5 million on 9,600 screens in 40 territories despite significant competition from “The Day After Tomorrow,” which grossed $33.7 million.
In addition, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” isn’t facing the same kind of competition this weekend in foreign markets since studios have opted for only a few targeted openings offering mostly counterprogramming.
BVI holdovers “Flightplan” and “Chicken Little” will likely remain the top performers among non-“Goblet” entries. Duo’s foreign cumes are $75.5 million and $24.5 million, respectively, as of Monday.
In limited release, Warner’s well-reviewed political drama “Syriana” bows on five screens.
Weinstein Co.’s Johnny Depp starrer “The Libertine” debuts with one play each in New York and L.A.
And in what Warner undoubtedly hopes will become a holiday tradition, “The Polar Express” returns to Imax 3-D on 66 giant screens.