|Harry Potter finished his Hogwarts school days with box-office highs around the world. The question is whether the young wizard can continue to work his charms on audiences now that so many fans already have seen his big-screen finale.
When a film opens to colossal numbers such as the record $169.2 million weekend domestically for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, it usually has nowhere to go but down - and sharply - in its second weekend.
"Conventional wisdom is the bigger they open, the harder they fall," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "There's no way they can sustain it."
Still, distributor Warner Bros. predicts the finale will easily top $1 billion worldwide, joining only a handful of films that have reached that level.
The film is almost halfway there already. Adding in its record international income of $312.3 million, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was closing in on $500 million after just days in release.
Domestic revenues for the last three of the seven earlier Harry Potter films fell about 60 percent in their second weekends, a steep drop but typical of many blockbusters that count on opening weekend for a huge portion of their total income.
Because of its record launch, the finale could drop even further, down as much as 65 to 70 percent next weekend, said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. After that, Fellman expects it to settle in for a long run, drawing repeat business from fans and even luring those who have not come out for earlier Harry Potter flicks.
Of the $295 million total for Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 42.4 percent came from opening weekend, according to Hollywood.com. If Deathly Hallows: Part 2 matched that, it would finish at about $400 million, potentially becoming the first in the series to pass that rare benchmark.
Only 11 films have ever reached that level domestically, including Avatar at $760.5 million, Titanic at $600.8 million and The Dark Knight at $533.3 million.
The top five movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, as compiled by Hollywood.com are: