"Harry Potter" seeks box office magic one last time

Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:29pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British boy wizard Harry Potter makes his final return to theaters this week and may bring enough box office magic to score the biggest opening weekend ever for the hugely successful series.

Box office estimates for opening weekend ticket sales of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" in the United States and Canada range from $125 million to $150 million, industry watchers said, putting it in league with the highest-grossing film debuts ever.

The record for best weekend opening belongs to 2008 Batman movie, "The Dark Knight," which collected $158.4 million in its initial three-days.

"Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" is the eighth and final film in the franchise. The Warner Bros. films have generated $6.4 billion in ticket sales since the first movie a decade ago, plus billions more from DVDs and merchandise.

Loyal fans eager to say farewell are expected to drive big numbers for the last installment, industry experts said.

"Harry Potter is remarkably consistent, hitting blockbuster levels each time out. This will be the culmination of everything, this long, nearly 10-year investment," said Brandon Gray, president of industry tracker boxofficemojo.com.

Initial ticket sales will "likely be the highest grossing opening weekend of the series," Gray said.

People with no prior interest in "Harry Potter" will go to the finale "simply because it is the end of an era," said Paul Dergarabedian, who heads up Hollywood.com Box Office. The film's marketing slogan -- "It All Ends" -- stresses that point.   Continued...

<p>Cast members (L-R) Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson arrive for the premiere of the film "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" in New York July 11, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>