As the summer season draws to a close, industry eyes are now turning to the other bastion of bumper box office: the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. And based on previous performance, the big hitters will run a close race for the ultimate box office glory - with the outcome determined by the results in just one territory.
With the two biggest hits of 2001, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone and The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, coming in the last six weeks of the year, winter was declared the new summer. Both films made the top five all-time highest grossing films worldwide and were both in the top four internationally.
Now, as Warner Bros prepares for the November 14 debut of Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets and New Line Cinema (along with the various distributors handling The Lord Of The Rings trilogy internationally) readies the December 18 bow of The Two Towers, Screen International looks at how the first instalments of these mega-franchises squared up in the international box office arena.
With theatrical trailers already playing and the poster campaign due to launch in the next couple of weeks, Chamber Of Secrets is getting a good head start this year, following in the footsteps of its predecessor which opened on Nov 16, 2001. Grossing a mammoth worldwide total of $961.2m (made up of $317.6m domestic gross and $643.6m international gross) Philosopher's Stone set a mighty example for Chamber Of Secrets.
Similarly a worldwide total of $860.7m ($313.3m domestic, $547.3m international) for The Fellowship Of The Ring put the entire trilogy well in profit long before DVD and video sales of the title began or the other two movies were even completed.
Both in director Peter Jackson's homeland of New Zealand and in the Scandinavian territories of Norway and Denmark the first Lord Of The Rings title surpassed box-office phenomenon Titanic to become the highest grossing film of all time.
It garnered 13 Oscar nominations (winning four), 12 BAFTA nominations (winning five including best film and best director as well as the public voted audience award) and numerous other gongs including the American Film Institute's (AFI) movie of the year award. However the film was unable to rule them all.
As shown below, US receipts showed little difference between Potter and Rings with Potter coming out just $4.3m ahead. Amongst the top five international territories similarly close results were seen in the UK and Ireland (Potter $93.5m, Rings $90.2m) and Spain (Potter $24.6m, Rings $28.2m).
The final tallies were slightly further removed in Germany and France, also both top five international territories. Germany, like Spain, saw Peter Jackson's fantasy epic win the battle with $83.8m compared to the Chris Columbus film's $72.7m. However this was countered in France where Potter grossed $45.9m, while Rings tallied $35.1m.
Rings triumphed in many countries, including Sweden ($15.7m to Potters $8.8m), Poland ($7.8m against $7.5m), Russia ($6.2m against $5.4m) and Australia ($24.2m against $21.9m). It played particularly well in the Nordic region, outperforming Harry Potter in all five territories, as well as Central and South America, coming out top in Brazil, Chile, Peru and Panama.
However Harry Potter's ultimate box office domination came from the most important international territory, Japan. With a mammoth Japanese gross of $163m Potter's takings eclipsed Rings' (distributed by Herald/Shochiku) $68.1m - the $94.9m stop gap accounting for virtually the entire $96.3m deficit between the two films final worldwide totals.
With the same directors and mostly identical casts to their originals, Chamber Of Secrets and The Two Towers could just repeat these patterns. While Potter's people will be looking to Germany and Scandinavia, the lords of the Rings will be addressing Japan and France.
Whatever else happens, with James Bond and the Star Trek crew also vying for screens at the end of the year, winter looks like providing another end of year box office bonanza.
|Territory||Lord Of The RingsBox Office||Harry PotterBox Office|