'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' enchants Friday box office with $61.2 mil | EW.com

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'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' enchants Friday box office with $61.2 mil

(Image Credit: Jaap Buitendijk)

Harry Potter is one popular bespectacled teenager. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 bewitched the box office on Friday by grossing $61.2 million, according to early estimates. If the estimate holds, Deathly Hallows will come away with the fifth best opening day ever, behind only the last two Twilight movies, The Dark Knight, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The Friday figure, which includes $24 million earned from Thursday midnight showings, also represents the single highest grossing day ever for the franchise, topping Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’s $58.2 million debut from last year.

Deathly Hallows’ final weekend result will depend on whether the PG-13 film’s business was extremely front-loaded or not. If the wizarding movie emulates Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the last Potter film to open on a Friday), it’ll drop 9 percent and 30 percent on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, giving it a weekend total of around $156 million. But considering the increased popularity of midnight screenings since 2005, Deathly Hallows will likely see a larger Friday-to-Saturday decline than Goblet of Fire.

The other movie Deathly Hallows could follow is The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which debuted on the same November weekend a year ago.

After draining a record $72.7 million its opening day, New Moon plunged 42 and 34 percent on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. If Deathly Hallows were to witness the same drops, it’d conclude the weekend with around $121 million. But while Twihards may trump Potter fans in sheer passion, Potter should draw a more varied crowd, including a greater proportion of adults who don’t rush out the millisecond a movie reaches theaters. So, if you’ve followed me this far, this is simply a long way of saying that Deathly Hallows is on track to earn somewhere between $130 million and $140 million this weekend. Which as Ron Weasley would say, is “bloody brilliant.”

Mr. Weasley could not say the same for the Russell Crowe thriller The Next Three Days, which debuted in fifth place with a Friday gross of $2.2 million. The $30 million movie should finish the weekend with just under $7 million – Crowe’s worst opening since 2006’s A Good Year. The rest of the top five consisted of holdovers. The Denzel Washington action thriller Unstoppable fell 49 percent for $4.1 million, while the superhero comedy Megamind slid 52 percent for $3.7 million. Like last time, expect Megamind to overtake Unstoppable by Sunday night. And in fourth place was the Robert Downey Jr. road-trip comedy Due Date, which dropped 47 percent for $2.9 million. Check back here on Sunday for the complete box office report.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 – $61.2 mil
2. Unstoppable – $4.1 mil
3. Megamind – $3.7 mil
4. Due Date – $2.9 mil
5. The Next Three Days – $2.2 mil

Box office preview: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would like your attention

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