So much for that audience-limiting PG-13 rating: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire cast a phenomenal spell at the box office this weekend, grossing a phenomenal $101.4 million, according to studio estimates.
That’s the biggest box office take for any Potter film (last year’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened with $93.7 million) and the fourth-biggest opening weekend ever, behind Spider-Man, Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, and Shrek 2. Parents obviously had no problems taking children of all ages to the film, despite its darker tone and PG-13 rating (the first three Potter movies were rated PG).
Also opening well was the fantastic Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, which premiered with $22.4 million. All the Oscar buzz for stars Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon helped the music-heavy drama become the perfect counter-programming to the young wizard. Meanwhile, Chicken Little dropped a sizable 53 percent to $14.8 million in its third weekend, bringing its total to $99.1 million.
The Jennifer Aniston thriller Derailed slipped 47 percent to $6.5 million, while the family adventure Zathura took the biggest Harry hit, plummeting 62 percent in its second weekend to only $5.1 million. Lesson of the season: Don’t open your family movie seven days before a Harry Potter flick…under any circumstances.