Overseas auds opt to see the wizard

'Harry' finale takes over the world

Warner Bros.’ final “Harry Potter” installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” cast its spell across the globe over the July 15-17 weekend, resulting in record-breaking grosses the world over.

Internationally, “Part 2’s” overseas debut of $313.5 million smashed the previous benchmark ($260.4 million) set by “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” The figure is higher even than Warner’s estimated $307 million take, thanks to a better-than-expected bow in Japan, where “Part 2” benefited from a national holiday July 18.

Elsewhere in the world, “Part 2” broke domestic records with a three-day launch totaling $169 million, while the pic’s worldwide tally of $482.4 million handily beat the short-lived global record holder, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” ($400.4 million). “Part 2” came in well above the franchise’s next-best overseas debut, “Half-Blood Prince,” which earned $236 million during its opening weekend in 2009. Meanwhile, the first “Deathly Hallows” installment bowed last year to $205 million internationally, though that pic didn’t have major day-and-date markets like France and South Korea. Moreover, “Part 1” opened in mid-November, not summer.

Through July 20, “Part 2” has cumed $390 million internationally, boosted by outstanding midweek perfs in a total 59 countries outside the U.S.

Not surprisingly, the U.K. stands as the film’s top overseas market, with a cume of $47.4 million as of July 20, followed neck-and-neck by Japan and Germany, having contributed $32.4 million and $32 million, respectively, over that same time period. In Blighty, “Part 2” became the territory’s biggest three-day opening ever, and in Australia, the film also ranks as the all-time biggest opener, taking in $27.1 million. (However, the pic had a five-day opening weekend in Oz.)

“Part 2” is on track to becoming the biggest “Potter” pic at the B.O., with additional help from premium 3D sales at overseas wickets.

As the franchise’s first 3D offering, “Part 2” earned 60% of its total opening B.O. from the format, which represented about 46% of the total screen count. Russia, which tallied $19.5 million, had the biggest 3D share, at 72%, while Japan grossed 71% of the pic’s opening from 3D.

English-speaking territories, particularly Blighty and Oz, did less biz in 3D, totaling 60% and 55%, respectively from the format.

The latter two territories, while less enthusiastic toward 3D, still saw the most staggering turnouts, up about 10% over expectations for the U.K., according to Warner Intl. prexy Veronika Kwan-Rubinek. “We broke every record in those countries,” Kwan-Rubinek notes. “They’re truly incredible numbers.”

“Part 2” was one of this year’s few B.O. gimmes, as pundits expected the film to have a mammoth opening. What’s more: The film should continue to see strong repeat business both domestically and abroad, thanks to strong word-of-mouth and the franchise’s rabid fanbase.

Still, “Part 2” didn’t set the frame ablaze in every market, most notably, in Spain, where its $8.7 million debut failed to match Warner’s best opener in that market — the fourth “Potter” pic, “Goblet of Fire.”

“The result exemplifies the difference in the Spanish market and how this class of blockbusters contrasts with the rest of the world,” notes one Spanish booker.

The pic adds to the trend in Spain of underperforming tentpoles, which many blame on piracy. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” debuted in Spain with a quiet $3.6 million — on par with the second “Transformers” film, “Revenge of the Fallen.”

Despite “Potter” commandeering the majority of the overseas market, “Dark of the Moon” managed to gross $39.5 million, repping a weekend-to-weekend drop of 58%. After its third week, “Dark of the Moon” has cumed a whopping $462.3 million internationally, with China opening this weekend.

Ed Meza in Berlin, Anson Woodring in Madrid, David Hayhurst in Paris, Nick Vivarelli in Rome and Mark Schilling in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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