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Box office report: 'Harry Potter' scores biggest opening weekend ever with $168.6 mil

Harry Potter

(Jaap Buitendijk)

Hello, trifecta. After scoring the largest midnight debut and opening day, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 also landed the big one: best opening weekend.

According to studio estimates, the PG-13 wizarding movie collected $168.6 million this weekend, surpassing The Dark Knight’s record $158.4 million and giving Warner Bros. the two best opening weekends ever. However, when adjusted for inflation, Knight would still be king with approximately $173 million in today’s ticket prices. Nevertheless, everyone involved with the eighth and final Potter film should be mighty proud. Not only did the movie bring in record-breaking amounts of moolah, but it’s currently the best-reviewed wide release of the year, according to both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. And it received an overall “A” rating from CinemaScore audiences.

Potter earned a record $15.5 million at IMAX theaters, according to the large-screen company. The film’s conversion to 3-D, however, produced middling results, as just 43 percent of the movie’s debut came from 3-D screens. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, by comparison, harvested 60 percent of its opening from 3-D showings. Overseas, where audiences are still enamored with 3-D, Potter’s three-dimensional share was a stronger 61 percent. Speaking of overseas, Potter grossed $307 million in 59 countries, surpassing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ $260.4 million for the largest foreign opening of all time. Add in its domestic total and Potter’s worldwide debut becomes $475.6 million, trouncing the prior all-time benchmark of $394 million set by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

The film, it should be noted, was extremely front-loaded. Domestically, Potter fell 53 percent from Friday to Saturday, which is the steepest Friday-to-Saturday drop ever for a movie opening in more than 2,000 theaters. While its Friday gross of $92.1 million was the largest single-day tally ever, its estimated Saturday gross of $42.9 million ranks ninth among all Saturday results. This kind of massive drop was to be expected, with throngs of Potter fans opting to see the movie as early as possible. It’ll be interesting to see how the film holds up next weekend as the initial Potter-mania wears off.

Lest we all forget, other movies also played this weekend. Disney’s new Winnie the Pooh debuted in sixth place with $8 million. The G-rated picture topped the openings of Pooh’s Heffalump Movie ($5.8 million) and Piglet’s Big Movie ($6.1 million), but fell short of The Tigger Movie ($9.4 million). CinemaScore audiences gave it an “A-” grade. Curiously, 2 percent of CinemaScore’s participants listed “actress in a lead role” as a reason for why they attended Winnie the Pooh. Explain that one to me.

Among holdovers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon fell 55 percent for $21.3 million, pushing the action film’s cumulative total to $302.8 million. The comedies Horrible Bosses and Zookeeper held up well, slipping only 38 percent and 39 percent for $17.6 million and $12.3 million, respectively. Pixar’s Cars 2 rounded out the top five with $8.3 million.

In limited release, the historical drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan made $136,000 from 24 theaters, while the Errol Morris documentary Tabloid grossed $101,000 at 14 locations. Distributor ARC Entertainment hasn’t released a concrete estimate for the new Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, but a source close to the film said it earned between $60,000 and $75,000 at 10 theaters. And Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris became the director’s top-grossing film with a cumulative tally of $41.8 million, passing his 1986 movie Hannah and Her Sisters.

Check back next week as the superhero flick Captain America: The First Avenger and the R-rated comedy Friends with Benefits attempt to spoil the Potter party.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – $168.6 mil
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon – $21.3 mil
3. Horrible Bosses – $17.6 mil
4. Zookeeper – $12.3 mil
5. Cars 2 – $8.3 mil
6. Winnie the Pooh – $8.0 mil

More Harry Potter from EW:
Harry Potter Central
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2: EW movie recap!

Originally posted July 17 2011 — 2:58 PM EDT

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