Warner Bros. pic smashes record for global debut with $475.6 mil

Warner Bros.’ boy wizard cast his final spell on the box office this weekend, breaking records in most major markets across the globe.

The last installment of Warner’s mega-hit franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” swept the industry’s triple crown (best global, international and domestic openings) — previously held by three different pics — with a staggering global debut of $475.6 million.

“Part 2″ smashed records all weekend around the world, including industry records for both international ($307 million) and domestic ($168.6 million) debuts.

The final “Potter” pic collected enough coin through Sunday to surpass the short-lived worldwide benchmark of $400 million set two weeks ago by “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” as well as this summer’s international debut record of $260.4 million set by “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Domestically, the biz’s previous three-day opening benchmark had held since “The Dark Knight” bowed during this same weekend in 2008 with $158.4 million.

“Part 2″ also set a Stateside record for the largest midnight debut ($43.5 million), the biggest opening day tally at $92.1 million (which included midnight grosses) and the best-ever three-day Imaxbow totaling $15.5 million.

Dan Fellman, domestic distribution prexy for Warner, said: “It’s been an exciting week but somewhat bittersweet. It really is a trip down memory lane.”

The socko worldwide perf for “Part 2″ over the weekend isn’t all that surprising considering that the “Harry Potter” finale had been tracking at the top of audience polls for weeks leading up to its release. But the breadth of its appeal — both domestically and abroad — helped the film live up to even the most optimistic expectations.

“The sheer size of the weekend is extraordinary,” said Warner Intl. distribution exec Veronika Kwan-Rubinek. “Going into it, we could only hope to do over $300 million internationally.”

Through Sunday, “Part 2″ saw the largest bow ever in both the U.K. and Australia, grossing $36.6 million and $26.7 million, respectively. In Blighty, the film also earned the most ever for a single day (Saturday) at the U.K. box office.

Also bowing this weekend in the U.S., Disney’s tot-targeted “Winnie the Pooh” came in with a solid (all things considered, “Potter”-wise) $8 million and an A- CinemaScore. The Mouse bowed “Pooh” before the U.S. in a few overseas markets — some as soon as April 13 (France) — to avoid “Potter” and other toons like “Kung Fu Panda 2″ and “Cars 2.” So far, “Pooh” has tallied $8.9 million internationally.

At the specialty B.O., Fox Searchlight debuted Wayne Wang’s “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” grossing a modest $135,619 for an estimated per-screen average of $5,651 from 24 theaters. Searchlight said the film underperformed among its targeted Chinese-American demo, likely hurt by negative reviews. The pic seemingly was less affected by Carmageddon, with L.A. Westside theater the Landmark its top-grossing location.

‘Potter’ 3D magic?

With too few 3D screens in the U.S. causing capacity issues, mainly for major blockbusters like “Harry Potter,” it’s hard to draw any solid conclusions on the state of 3D. But the numbers show the format is hardly in the clear.

“Potter” earned just 43% of its domestic opening from 3D, which includes about 9% from Imax — pic was the only “Potter” film offered in 3D. That’s an even lower 3D opening percentage than Disney’s “On Stranger Tides,” which collected 46% from 3D, also including 9% from Imax. (“Cars 2,” however, bowed with just 40% in 3D.)

Some B.O. observers had hoped Paramount’s “Dark of the Moon,” which collected 60% from domestic 3D locations, would help reboot aud interest for the flagging format, though Par put out considerable effort marketing “Transformers” as a 3D event.

With “Potter,” Warners banked on the pic’s status as the series finale to help boost 3D ticket sales — pic’s trailer stated: “Complete the journey in 3D.” That strategy may have worked with some auds (the film did earn $73 million domestically in 3D, with an additional $187 million, or 61%, overseas).

But considering the scope of “Potter” this weekend, bizzers expected more from the format.

Still, Fellman noted that one in three Stateside moviegoers saw the film in 3D. He also said that while the pic bowed in a record-setting 3,000 3D locations, the actual screen count for 3D (4,250) was far less than pic’s total 2D screens at approximately 6,750. “It’s hard to (evaluate the 3D), because there’s never been a number like this,” Fellman said, referring to “Potter’s” record-setting domestic debut.

According to other B.O. pundits, “Potter” received mostly neutral to positive word of mouth on the 3D presentation, which could help repeat biz. “I think you’re going to find people going back in 3D,” an exhib exec said.

Overall, the film has garnered glowing feedback, with an A CinemaScore rating. Auds under 18, which repped 28% of the pic’s opening, gave it an A+ appraisal — as did moviegoers 35-49, repping 20%.

Warner’s Kwan-Rubinek said she expects to see a long life for the wizard in overseas markets, especially in the U.K., where “Potter” came in roughly 10% higher than the studio’s expectations. The film exceeded expectations in Japan as well with $21.5 million — a very strong result considering the country’s devastating earthquake earlier this year. 3D contributed 71% of “Potter’s” opening in Japan, while in Blighty the film earned 60% from 3D.

China, which should be a major 3D contributor, will see the pic launch on Aug. 4.

Non-‘Potter’ spellbinders

While “Potter” commanded more than 65% of the domestic market, there was still enough room for notable holdover action.

Par’s “Dark of the Moon” crossed the $300 million domestic benchmark thanks to a respectable 55% drop in its third frame. Meanwhile, Warner’s soph title “Horrible Bosses” dropped a slim 38% to claim the No. 3 spot with an estimated $17.6 million; cume is $60 million. Warner said it expects “Bosses” to cross $100 million by next weekend.

Also, the B.O.’s best specialty player so far this year, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Midnight in Paris,” ended the weekend (its ninth frame) in the top 10 with an estimated $1.9 million. Stateside cume of $41.8 million now makes “Paris” the highest domestic grosser for Woody Allen, beating the helmer’s previous best, “Hannah and Her Sisters,” which grossed $40.1 million in 1986.

Magical milestones

Warners’ final “Harry Potter” film set numerous industry records.

Global Bow
$475.6 mil
Previous record: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” $400.5 mil

Int’l Bow
$307.0 mil
Previous record: “Pirates: On Stranger Tides,” $260.4 mil

Domestic 3-day Bow
$168.6 mil
Previous record: “The Dark Knight,” $158.4 mil

Domestic opening day
$92.1 mil
Previous record: “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” $72.7 mil

Global Imax Bow
$23.5 mil
Previous record: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” $20.4 mil

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