“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the last film in the best-selling wizarding series, opened in the U.S. on Friday, after premiering in London on July 7.
And it proceeded to break major box-office records, selling a staggering $476 million in tickets around the world over the weekend, and $168.6 million in tickets in North America alone — the biggest opening weekend in history, not adjusting for inflation, according to the New York Times.
“The Dark Knight” previously held the North American record with $158.4 million, according to Hollywood.com, which compiles ticketing data. CNN points out that when adjusted for inflation, "The Dark Knight" would still win out in North America, with approximately $173 million in today's ticket prices.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” also had the biggest opening day of all time, earning $92.1 million Friday alone, the Washington Post reported. The eighth and final Harry Potter movie was the first in the series to be released in premium-priced 3-D. According to Box Office Mojo, the film also has the second-highest-grossing 3D release (after “Alice in Wonderland”), although, 57 percent of moviegoers watched the movie in the traditional, and slightly cheaper, 2D.
The final adaptation of the J.K. Rowling fantasy book series also set a record for biggest midnight screening at $43.5 million, according to USA Today.
In London, at the film's premiere on July 7, the stars hit the red carpet to say goodbye. Emma Watson was visibly emotional as she walked down the red carpet to view her last performance as Hermione Granger. She was crying so much that her makeup ran. For all of the stars who, more or less, grew up playing their characters over the last decade, the premiere marked the end of the Potter saga.
(See GP photo feature: The final Harry Potter film premiered in London on July 7, 2011)
And for Harry Potter fans around the world, this was the one last time to camp out at theaters, dress up as their favorite Hogwarts' characters and eagerly wait to see the final installment of the final film.
(See GP photo feature: Fans come in character to movie theaters to see the last episode of the Harry Potter series)
The Harry Potter movie series is the highest-grossing franchise of all time, with $2.1 billion in box office receipts in North America alone, USA Today said.
The film did well with critics as well, getting a thumbs-up from 97% of the U.S.'s critics, according to the Rotten Tomatoes survey site, the highest for an entry in the series.
CNN sounded a note of caution about the staying power of the huge box office, however:
The film, it should be noted, was extremely front-loaded. Domestically, "Potter" fell 53 percent from Friday to Saturday, which is the steepest Friday-to-Saturday drop ever for a movie opening in more than 2,000 theaters. While its Friday gross of $92.1 million was the largest single-day tally ever, its estimated Saturday gross of $42.9 million ranks ninth among all Saturday results. This kind of massive drop was to be expected, with throngs of "Potter" fans opting to see the movie as early as possible. It'll be interesting to see how the film holds up next weekend as the initial "Potter"-mania wears off.
Meanwhile, Potter-mania hasn't ended; perhaps it's just changed its medium. J.K. Rowling will sell the Harry Potter e-books through her own e-commerce store and interactive online experience, Pottermore.
Rowling, who retains the digital rights to the seven Harry Potter novels, will bypass Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple and offer the fantasy series in the open-source e-Pub format, compatible with any electronic reading device, including the iPad.
(Read GP: Harry Potter e-book to sell on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling says)