[This is part three of a four-part series. You can also read part one, part two, and part four. This article contains spoilers for the films discussed, but NOT for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince]
Next up: Director Mike Newell’s take on the Potter franchise. Newell cut his teeth directing TV but went onto demonstrate his range in film through well-crafted dramas (Donnie Brasco) and comedies (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pushing Tin). While clearly talented, he’s not the first person that would have come to mind when choosing a director for this series, but obviously, all that matters is whether or not the film measures up. So how good is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?
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What is your favorite Harry Potter film? Which of the movies in the series do you think is the best reviewed? Highest rated by the mainstream public? Largest grossing. I can tell you that my favorite is Alfanso Cuaron‘s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and it seems like I’m not alone. Azkaban is the best reviewed and highest publicly rated of the bunch, yet it made the least amount of money of the series ($83 million less than the next lowest release). How sad. Lets take a look at the Harry Potter film series (so far) by the numbers.
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The HD-DVD release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix offers a revolutionary new DVD feature called “Live Community Screening”:
Gather your own army of fellow wizards for a live community screening party. Invite other owners of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD DVD to simultaneously watch from their own internet-accessed players and text with your remote, PC or cell phone. When you host an invitation-only viewing, you control the film by pausing and playing the feature on everyone’s machine. You can chat live with your friends as you watch.
But the question is, will anybody actually use this feature? It requires all parties to own the HD-DVD disc, and a HD-DVD player with internet access features.
Meanwhile, Transformers director Michael Bay is at it again, this time he is spouting off conspiracy theories about how Microsoft is trying to sabotage the High Definition DVD format war:
“What you don’t understand is corporate politics. Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads. That is the dirty secret no one is talking about. That is why Microsoft is handing out $100 million dollar checks to studios just embrace the HD DVD and not the leading, and superior Blu Ray. They want confusion in the market until they perfect the digital downloads. Time will tell and you will see the truth.”
I don’t think Bay is seeing the big picture. Microsoft has more to gain from the success of HD-DVD than they do digital downloads (but the truth of the matter is they have much to gain from both). I do believe that this format war will have no winner, and digital downloads and on demand will triumph.
So what do you guys think:
- Would you use the “Live Community Screening” feature?
- Is Microsoft trying to sabotage the HD format wars?
Last year we wrote an article on how we wished that movie studios didn’t force us buy a movie in 5 different formats. I have a library of thousands of DVDs, which I now must re-buy in HD-DVD or Blu-ray, in addition to spending hours encoding them for my iPod video or iPhone or plunking down another $15 for a small extra-less digital version on iTunes. I suggested that with all this new found room on the next generation HD formats, why not include a small digital version that consumers could put on their portable video devices. And now Warner Bros Video has announced that are doing just that, but on the regular ol’ fashion DVD.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will be the first DVD to come bundled with multiple video formats on a single disk. However, there has been no word on whether the video will have some kind of DRM. Warner has traditionally resisted unprotcted media, so we expect them to have some restrictions. If they use DRM embedded into Windows Media Video, this could lock out non-Windows users and the whole iPod market. It’s a great idea, let’s just see if they execute it right.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hits DVD store shelves on December 11th.
HARRY POTTER & THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (Warner Bros) continued its strong run at the box office on Friday grabbing an estimated $26.5M, bringing its 3-day cume to just shy of $90M. That should put HP5 right at $80M for the traditional Fri thru Sun 3-day weekend, and it will give ORDER OF THE PHOENIX the biggest 5-day opening in the history of the franchise with an estimated $142.6M.
The second weekend of Michael Bay’s mega-hit TRANSFORMERS (Dreamworks/Paramount) is starting off with a solid $10.5M estimate for Friday. Early Saturday, Optimus Prime will fly past $200M domestic, and my studio sources are pointing to a $34M weekend, down just 52% from it’s opening 3-day. Remy and company has added another $5.5M Friday as Pixar’s RATATOUILLE tops the $130M mark. I’m expecting a weekend take of $17.2M for the critically-acclaimed animated film distributed by Disney, down only 41%. LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (Fox) looks to be just under $3M to start the weekend, and, by Monday, the latest John McClane action pic will have banked a $9.65M 3-day and climbed past the $100M threshold. The Warner Bros misfire LICENSE TO WED added just $2.2M on Friday, and it will struggle to only $6.9M on its 2nd weekend.
For Friday and 3-Day Estimates for the top 14 films, you can visit FantasyMoguls.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the new all-time Wednesday box office champion, topping Spider-Man 2‘s $40.4M. The opening day estimate, however, sailed past my target range of $39M-$42M. HP5 is in the stratosphere with a breathtaking estimated $44.3M to start its domestic run. Harry’s record-breaking day started off Tuesday night/Wednesday morning at 12:01a with a staggering $12M. That’s double the midnight take for 2005’s Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire. Then it was sellouts and near-capacity houses all day long. Read more at FantasyMoguls.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is tracking to take $128 million in the first five days of release. Looking at the 5 major 2007 summer sequels I’ve calculated a formula to redict the success of the latest Potter. Using Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, Pirates 3, Ocean’s Thirteen and Fantastic Four 2, there’s a clear pattern here. 3 of the 5 sequels opened bigger than the previous installment, and the there 2 were down only slightly. Meanwhile, the cume is down drastically for all 5. In fact, on average, this summer’s sequels have opening weekends 7% higher than the previous films in the franchise, but their total domestic take is down an average of 20%.
If we plug in those percentages for the first 5 days of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it translates to an opening 5 days of $128M and a cume of $255M domestic. These numbers look about right to me. Here’s how I see Potter 5 penciling out on its opening 5 days.
- Wednesday, 7/11 – $32.5M (including Tuesday Midnight shows)
- Thursday, 7/12 – $19.5M
- Friday, 7/13 – $26.2M
- Saturday, 7/14 – $27.9M
- Sunday (7/15) – $21.9M
- Opening 5-Day Gross – $128M
- Friday thru Sunday – $76M
Those would be fantastic numbers, and this would easily become the best opening 5 days of any of the movies in the HP franchise. Read more at FantasyMoguls.com.
The Harry Potter series has grown on me. I remember attending the first movie wondering what the big deal was. I half dismissed it, but was there opening night for the sequel. I’ve since read all the books (or rather, listened to them on audiobook/ipod, which I highly recommend), I own all the DVDs, and I even wear a Prisoner of Azkaban t-shirt on occasion. I’m not one of those obsessed Harry Potter fanatics, but I’m also not what could be considered an occasional or recreational fan. I’ve seen the trailer for Order of the Phoenix more times than you can count on your two hands. But enough about me. The point is that I enter the Harry Potter films with high expectations.
And the Potter film series has improved since Chris Columbus first two films. Alfanso Curon’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is arguably the best in the series, followed shortly by Mike Newell’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Two great films by two great directors. So it worried me greatly that the next film was handed over to David Yates, a guy whose imdb resume included a bunch of British television shows and miniseries, and not much else. But fear not my friends, Yates knocks this one home. I was really happy to see Yates play off of the extended sweeping camera shots which Curon introduced in Azkaban. The special effects have also vastly improved over the course of the series.
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