Will the Latest Harry Potter Film Set All-Time Box Office Records?

The final film in the Harry Potter franchise could not only take the record for the highest domestic opening weekend of all time, but could also take the top spot worldwide. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will open in theaters Friday, with midnight showings sold out weeks in advance all over the country. The film has already grossed $25 million in advance ticket sales in North America.

Harry Potter is already the most lucrative film franchise in history, grossing $6.4 billion worldwide, just at the box office. The sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, currently holds the record for the biggest opening weekend worldwide. The film brought in a grand total of $394 million when it first opened in the summer of 2009, including $158 million domestically and $236 million abroad. The overall highest grossing film in the franchise was the first, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, which was released in 2002 and grossed $974.7 million worldwide.

The producer and distributor of all eight Harry Potter films, Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), is also responsible for The Dark Knight, which earned $158.4 million in North American sales when it opened in July 2008, earning it the top weekend launch of all time, a record that could very well be beaten this weekend.

The final film in the franchise will be the first offered in 3D (NYSE:RLD) which costs more per ticket at the box office and is thus likely up the film’s earning potential as it will be available on a record 3,000 3D screens. The film will also be playing on IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) screens. In total, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will open in over 4,300 different cinemas across the country, many of which will be offering the film on multiple screens and in multiple formats.

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The film opens in the U.K., Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S. on Friday, followed next Wednesday by premieres in France, Italy, Russia and Australia, then opening in Germany and Korea on Thursday. By next weekend, it will be playing in almost every market in the world, with the exception of China, where it opens August 4.

The final book in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was split into two films. The first released in November 2010, opening to $330 million worldwide — $125 million domestically and $205 million in foreign sales. Including sales of related merchandise and tie-in books, the franchise has earned upwards of $15 billion, a hefty share of which went to the book’s various publishers and distributors, including Scholastic Press (NASDAQ:SCHL) in the U.S., Bloomsbury (LSE:BMY) in the U.K., Raincoast Books in Canada, and Allen & Unwin in Australia, who sold over 400 million copies worldwide. The franchise has made its author, J.K. Rowling, the first and only to ever become a billionaire exclusively through book and book-related sales.