Home Articles Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows takes off as Unstoppable trundles on
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows takes off as Unstoppable trundles on PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 01 December 2010 12:31

The winner

A fistful of major new releases targeting adult audiences predictably failed to dislodge Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 from the top spot in its second week of release. The Potter picture\'s second-weekend takings of £8.34m are more than all the rest of the films in the market added together.

Deathly Hallows\'s 10-day turnover of £33.26m is the biggest ever for a Potter movie at this stage of release. In July 2009 Half-Blood Prince stood at £33.07m after its second weekend ? but thanks to a preview strategy giving two extra days of play at opening that figure represented a 12-day gross. The Order of the Phoenix, from July 2007, grossed £30.06m after two weekends ? an 11-day figure. Like Deathly Hallows, November 2005\'s Goblet of Fire opened without the benefit of previews, and after 10 days had grossed £29.62m.

Deathly Hallows is already the fifth-biggest movie of the past 12 months after Avatar, Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland and Inception. The film\'s only direct competition at the weekend came from previews for DreamWorks Animation\'s Megamind, which will be included in the film\'s opening figures on this blog next week.

The runner-up

Unstoppable ? Tony Scott\'s second train-related thriller in 16 months ? debuted with a solid £1.71m, including previews of £442,000. The result is almost identical to The Taking of Pelham 123\'s opening salvo of £1.78m, including previews of £311,000. Both films star Denzel Washington, Scott\'s favourite actor, with Crimson Tide, Man On Fire and Déjà Vu numbering among their earlier collaborations. 20th Century Fox, Unstoppable\'s distributor, would have hoped to beat Pelham 123 and might have done so had snow and frost not buffeted the box office in many parts of the UK and Ireland.

In 2006, Déjà Vu debuted with £1.10m. Two years earlier, Man On Fire began its run with a modest £656,000.

The trailing pack

While the commercial elements of Fox\'s Unstoppable (runaway train, Washington, Star Trek\'s Chris Pine) were easy to communicate, Entertainment Film Distributors faced a trickier challenge with gangland thriller London Boulevard, adapted from the book by Ken Bruen. Colin Farrell suggested with Ondine (debut of £102,000) and Pride and Glory (£397,000) that he can\'t be relied on to open any film, while Keira Knightley is unproven in contemporary stories ? Domino and The Jacket were hardly slamdunks at the box-office. London Boulevard\'s premise didn\'t lend itself to communication through brief TV spots while reviews, which might have filled in the gaps, were embargoed until Friday ? two days after the film appeared in UK cinemas. It ended up with an opening tally of £577,000, including £138,000 in Wednesday and Thursday previews.

On paper, Universal faced a more straightforward distribution and marketing task with its George Clooney hitman thriller The American. However, given a modest debut of £412,000 (admittedly on fewer screens than both Unstoppable and London Boulevard ? see chart below) this appears not to have been the case. Presumably, director Anton Corbijn\'s candid insistence the film was "European" rather than American was believed by cinemagoers. In the US the picture opened in September with $16.7m, which should equate to a UK debut of around £1.7m. Takings subsequently dived across the Atlantic as word percolated that The American didn\'t deliver the accessible entertainment expected of the hitman genre. The film may escape the same fate here as this fact has already been taken into consideration by the audience.

The American\'s opening is in a similar ballpark to Clooney\'s less commercial endeavours. Screwball comedy Leatherheads debuted in 2008 with £475,000. Solaris began its run in 2003 with £314,000 from a scaled-back 153 screens.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet\'s Nest lands two places below The American, bringing up the rear on predecessors Dragon Tattoo (£378,000) and Played With Fire (£405,000) with a debut of £219,000, including £20,000 in previews. The number suggests modest franchise fatigue: a chunk of the audience is presumably reluctant to shell out for a third Millennium Trilogy cinema trip in a mere eight months and is holding out for the three-film DVD box set.

Landing at number 10 is Machete, the Robert Rodriguez Mexploitation film that began as a trailer in Tarantino\'s Grindhouse double-bill. With £90,000 from 158 screens, the film is the lowest-grossing title inside the top 10 since Gainsbourg propped up the chart with an £87,000 weekend tally back in early August.

The big faller

While every film in the market fell by 50% and Skyline plunged 82%, Red managed to go one better with a catastrophic plummet of 90%, crashing from 6th place to 20th. The drop is surprising given that, previously, Red had consistently outperformed the market with relatively modest dips. Evidently it proved particularly vulnerable on this occasion to a fresh intake of adult-skewing thrillers. The film has accumulated a healthy £6.91m.

The future

Overall, the frame landed bang in the middle ? 26th ? of the league table of the last 52 weekends, despite the £8m-plus contribution of Harry Potter. The surprise is that, even with the Deathly Hallows in its locker, last weekend\'s overall was 20% below the equivalent frame from 2009 when the Twilight saga\'s New Moon led the chart on its second week of release, just ahead of new entrant Paranormal Activity. Cinemas will be hoping for another big cash injection this Friday from Megamind ? although reports of the previews so far might temper optimism. Fingers will certainly be crossed for less daunting temperatures, so that households are more tempted to abandon the twin safety blankets of cosy homes and The X Factor.

Top 10 films

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, £8,344,776 from 581 sites. Total: £33,257,8802. Unstoppable, £1,714,871 from 419 sites (New)3. London Boulevard, £577,224 from 345 sites (New)4. Due Date, £560,179 from 404 sites. Total: £9,208,2875. The American, £411,707 from 237 sites (New)6. Despicable Me, £241,944 from 487 sites. Total: £19,394,6337. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet\'s Nest, £219,259 from 108 sites (New)8. Jackass 3D, £119,369 from 173 sites. Total: £5,437,6569. Skyline, £92,931 from 231 sites. Total: £2,645,26710. Machete, £90,423 from 158 sites (New)

How the other openers did

Break Ke Baad, 33 screens, £85,708Nandalala, 8 screens, £3,137Leap Year, 2 screens, £2,830An Ordinary Execution, 5 screens, £2,325Tere Ishq Nachaye, 9 screens, £2,120Sleeping Princess, 2 screens, £1,693Waiting For Superman, 3 screens, £1,022Allah Ke Banday, 3 screens, £681The Scar Crow, no figures available

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Courtesy to guardian.co.uk.

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