Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
The Times UK published an article titled “Can Fantasy Epics Survive The Credit Crunch Chronicles” which uses Disney’s bail out of The Chronicles of Narnia to conclude that “Warner Bros was worried about the prospects for the last three [Harry Potter] films in the series, since J K Rowling is no longer driving anticipation for the titles by producing new books.” Of course, this one sentence has caused an uproar in the Harry Potter fanspace, and the bloggers have picked it up with sensational titles questioning the future of the Potter film franchise. C’mon, really?
The entertainment industry will surely see some harsh cutbacks in the coming year. Forget the fact that Warner Bros broke Sony’s 2006 yearly box office record this year. You could argue that WB’s total is a result of “The Dark Knight’s summer success, and that was before things really got bad.” Okay sure. And lets not forget that the Christmas 2008 holiday weekend was the biggest in U.S. box office history with over $173 million in total ticket sales. Yes, we know, its going to get worse… And yes, the hype from the release of new Potter books is bound to hurt the Potter film franchise, BUT to compare the situation to that of Disney’s Narnia situation is ridiculous at best. But don’t believe me, lets look at the numbers:
The first four Harry Potter films rank in the top 25 highest grossing films of all time worldwide. The last film to be released, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was the second highest grossing of the series, second only to the debut film. Phoenix, which was made for $150 million, grossed over $938 million worldwide, and who knows how much on DVD and merchandising.
The problem with the Narnia films is that they were never big money makers in the first place. Prince Caspian had a budget of over $200 million and grossed only $141 million domestically. The worldwide total of $419 million means that the film barely made it into the green (remember, almost half ticket sales go to the exhibitors). And Caspian was a huge drop from Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which took in $745 Million worldwide. It’s extremely unlikely that the Harry Potter series will see that kind of drop. And even if the last two films, Part 1 and 2 of Deathly Hallows, have a 50% drop, which isn’t likely, the film would still be considered a huge sucess. For example, WALL-E had a buget of $180+million and took in $507 million worldwide, almost half that of the last Potter film. Potter fans have nothing to fear – as long as Warner Bros can make money on the Harry Potter series, the films will still be produced. And besides, last I heard the films were going to be shot back to back and principal photography begins in February 2009. By the time Half-Blood Prince hits theaters, 40% of filming will have been completed. It is extremely unlikely that Warner Bros would pull the plug at that time and only release the first half of the last book theatrically. Actually, the suggestion of such is almost laughable.
And speaking of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we have five new photos after the jump!