Hello, Muggles! Wouldn’t you know, here we are on another big summer weekend with another sure winner. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix smashed records in its opening earlier this week. It scored the best Wednesday premiere in history ($44.2 million, including a huge $12 mil in midnight showings), beating the old mark set by Spider-Man 2 ($40.4 mil). Naturally, the wizards will continue to cast a spell over multiplexes throughout the weekend. But just how high will HPATOOTP’s score get in this game of box-office Quidditch? Read on, dear Gryffindor fans.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 4,285 theaters · NEW
Those box-office returns are even more impressive when you consider that this is the fifth Harry Potter film, and it would be hard to blame audiences for suffering from a little franchise fatigue. Clearly, though, that’s not going to be the case this weekend — or this summer, which has suddenly become All About Harry, with series’ final book on the way next week. HP flicks have all opened between $88 mil and $105 mil, and considering the early returns and HPATOOTP’s incredibly bloated theater count (second only to the most recent Pirates flick, which opened on a record-breaking 4,362 screens), we should expect to see a three-day bow in the upper reaches of that range.
Weekend prediction: $99 million; five-day gross: $157 million
Paramount · PG-13 · 4,050 theaters · 2nd weekend
Last week’s champ — which actually earned even more over the weekend ($70.5 mil) than the Sunday estimate ($67.6 mil) indicated — will have to take a back seat in the bus this time around, with a standard 50 percent drop. Wait a second…they ARE the bus! Aw, man, I can’t keep all this ”more than meets the eye” stuff straight.
Weekend prediction: $36 million
Walt Disney · G · 3,625 theaters · 3rd weekend
”Mommy! Mommy! Can we get a cute little gourmet rodent?” Like any good Pixar flick, this furry feature has sprouted some serious legs. It has already scurried well past $110 mil and shows no signs of slowing. More to the point, though: How many requests do you think America’s pet stores have had for domesticated rats?
Weekend prediction: $18 million
Live Free or Die Hard
Fox · PG-13 · 3,201 theaters · 3rd weekend
Bruce Willis’ action sequel has definitely been getting busy living, not dying. After three weeks, its total gross is approaching the $100 mil mark.
Weekend prediction: $9 million
After Dark/Lionsgate · R · 1,050 theaters· NEW
Just because John Cusack and Stephen King’s PG-13-rated thriller 1408 has earned more than $50 mil does not mean, in my opinion, that horror movies are back. Especially the really raw kind of R-rated flicks like this one, which revolves around a fashion model (24’s Elisha Cuthbert) in peril. I mean: Ick! And: Yawn! Sure, it’s intriguing that Captivity is directed by Roland Joffé, the filmmaker behind those great ’80s epics The Killing Fields and The Mission. And then there’s the fact that it’s a horror movie opening on — oooh! — Friday the 13th. Otherwise, the curiosity factor here seems frightfully low.
Weekend prediction: $5 million
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