Loyal fans lined up in the middle of the night to see the first showing of the latest Harry Potter movie, and many more are flocking to theaters Friday.
At the Loews theater in Times Square it was a very busy Friday with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” being shown 22 times.
With fans were lined up late Thursday for the first midnight showing and continuing to pour into the theater Friday, exhibitors and Hollywood studios are hoping every seat will be filled. So far this year, it’s been a rough ride at the movies -– through last Sunday, this year's domestic grosses at the box office stood at $7.4 billion, down 8 percent from a year ago, the first decrease since 1991.
“This is the first time where it's actually down and that's because the movies themselves have been weak,” says Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo. “Hollywood hasn't released that many appealing movies, with few exceptions.”
To most fans and critics that one exception is this Harry Potter movie. But if past performance is any indication of future results, this film probably won't pull in as much as its predecessors.
The first one, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” released in 2001, grossed $317 million in the U.S. Number two, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” released in 2002, made $261 million. And last year's “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the third in the series, grossed only $249 million.
But the U.S. box office isn't what the studios are banking on these days. With DVD sales and ancillary markets -- television, cable and all of the merchandising royalties -- analyst Porter Bibb says the latest Harry Potter film -- the first one rated PG13 -- should gross well over $1 billion worldwide.
“It’s going to appeal to adults,” says Bibb. “The audience has grown up with Harry, Harry's a teenager and there's a love interest going on in this story. And the kids filling the theater seats don't have to ask their parents for permission or for money, so I think you'll see a nice blip with Harry.”
And the Harry Potter series continues to chug along – “Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix" is scheduled to be released in 2007.