Last weekend saw Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part II break the Box-Office weekend records both in North America and the U.K taking $168m and £23m respectively. It overtook The Dark Knight which previously held the record with $158m in its first 3 days in the U.S. But how does a film break these records and make millions upon millions for the studios? Here is my guide of how to do it with your movie:
1) Be a major franchise – Nothing attracts audiences more than the latest film in a franchise. People know what they’re getting with the latest James Bond, Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean installment and so rather than risk going to see the new, independent film will watch the safe bet. They usually also cater for family audiences which are a huge demographic and usually why we find that the latest foreign, critically acclaimed, Palme D’Or winner has be shunned in favour of twenty screenings a day of the latest superhero blockbuster sequel. At the moment, Harry Potter is the undisputed master of the franchise and has therefore reflected this is its astronomical figures.
2) Be adapted from a literary source – Whether it’s a well loved novel or an iconic comic book the adaptation will consistently find an audience and make some money. Already having huge fan bases and devoted readers one section of the audiences is already there. The Lord of the Rings, Twilight and Harry Potter have all used this to their advantage as well as a myriad of comic books. Within the last decade these comics have surged onto the screen, one after another, because they make so much money for the studios. So many have been produced from the back catalogue of Marvel and DC, with the upcoming, ultimate Marvel crossover The Avengers showing the power they hold. The fact eight out the top ten record breaking opening weekends films have been adapted from a literary source is testament to the strength of this factor.
3) Be in Digital 3D (Not retrofitted in post-production) – On Box Office Mojo’s list of opening weekend grosses you will have to skim down to number 37 to see James Cameron’s Avatar, however, if you look across to total takings you will see that at $ 749,766,139 it is still the most financially successful film ever. This is in no small part to the fact that it was filmed and distributed in 3D. The extra cost of the glasses along with the repeat viewings that came with the excitement of the new craze in 2009 catapulted it into the financial stratosphere. This also applies to Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland which ranks 9th in opening weekend box-office. Although not regarded as one of the better blockbusters, the fact that it was in 3D attracted a lot more people than it would if it was merely 2D.
4) Get your release date right! – Luckily for Harry Potter it came out at a time where there wasn’t much going on, no World Cup or huge sporting events besides the Golf, which I don’t think many people who know what a muggle or a squib is have much love for. The date can determine how many people was your film. James Cameron was originally going to release Titanic as a summer release but moving it later in the year, where there were less competitors, saw it gather the biggest film gross of its time. Coming out at a time where there are few big competitors and not much else going on in the world you could make a billion rather than a million. As a case study in this, when Cameron released Avatar, which trounced everything before it financially the only competitor to vie for the audience’s cash with a nationwide release was Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel…Nuff said.
5) Come out on a rainy weekend – This always helps, people usually flock to the cinema when the weather is disappointing and probably, even slightly, added to the £23m made by Harry Potter on this dreary weekend. Though it cannot be backed up by evidence as the previous four points can, it could very much make a difference.
So there you go. These are the tips that have made millions of pounds for studios in the past and will continue to in the future. Follow these to the letter and you and your movie will be sure to be a Box-Office success.