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Rediff.com  » Movies » The wizard rules the US BO!

The wizard rules the US BO!

June 07, 2004 16:03 IST

A still from Harry Potter and The Prisoner of AzkabanThe newest Harry Potter film is the darkest in the series, but it was glowing at the box office worldwide as it cast an estimated $92.6 million weekend spell in North America.

The third film in the series, Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban, also harvested an estimated $60 million in the United Kingdom in five days.

The film, which cost $130 million, could be profitable in just about two weeks. Its first week gross could easily exceed $300 million worldwide, more than 60 per cent of it going to producer and distributor Warner Bros.

Most reviews in England and America were more than favourable to The Prisoner of Azkaban, which was directed by the renowned Mexican craftsman, Alfonso Cuaron. This is his first big-budget film. His previous American films, A Little Princess and the modernised version of Great Expectations, were also based on literary works. The former was based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett and the latter on Charles Dickens's book.

"Please don't think the hand-held camera at the start of the third Harry Potter movie means that the franchise is off to a shaky start," wrote Wesley Morris in Boston Globe. "It's just the opposite."

One of the few critics not to be awed by the new film was Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times. "Is Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban as good as the first two films?" he asked  "Not quite," he wrote, saying the script was long-winded and nowhere as suspenseful as in the first two films. All three Harry Potter movies had screenplay by Steve Kloves.

The rival Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro was more welcoming. "This third Harry Potter movie shakes the candy coating off of the franchise without violating its spirit," he wrote.

Similar sentiments were shared by many other critics with Lou Lumenick writing in the New York Post: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is precisely the kind of invention the franchise needed."

San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle predicted a strong box-office run for the new film. "Much more than its predecessors, Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban is a movie for adults, too," he wrote.

Partly assaulted by the mighty opening of The Prisoner of Azkaban, and partly suffering from its two-week-long relentless box-office raid, the animated comic classic Shrek 2 plummeted by about 49 per cent from its previous week. Yet, its $37 million gross is nothing to sneer at. The movie has already grossed an impressive $313 million. But its chances of reaching the $400 million benchmark seem a bit remote now.

It could still surpass Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the ultra-violent religious epic which, with its $375 million, is the highest grossing film of the year. In less than two weeks, Shrek 2 could become the highest grossing animated movie in North America, beating the $339 million gross of Finding Nemo.

Both Shrek 2 and The Prisoner Of Azkaban face serious competition on June 11 from two films, Garfield and The Chronicles Of Riddick.

Riddick (Vin Diesel) is an escaped convict with the ability to see in the dark. He finds himself caught in the middle of a galactic war between two opposing forces. The key figure here is Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), leader of a sect called the Necromongers waging the '10th Crusade' in the 26th century.

Whether Riddick succeeds or not, its initial box-office raid will surely hurt The Prisoner of Azkaban.

At third position on the chart is the disaster drama The Day After Tomorrow. While suffering a steeper fall than Shrek 2, it nevertheless harvested $28 million and its North American gross reached an impressive $128.8 million in 10 days.

Brad Pitt in TroyThe Brad Pitt-starrer Troy, which is doing wonderful business abroad, had an anaemic week in America. The epic collected $5.7 million, placing it at No 4 position on the chart.

Despite coming down the box-office ladder by about 39 per cent, Raising Helen remained at No 5 for the second consecutive week. The film starring Kate Hudson and co-produced by Ashok Amritraj could end its American run with a decent $40 million gross.

The surprise hit of the season Mean Girls, which was No 6 film of the week, enjoyed another generous weekend, earning $2.9 million and seeing the gross reach $78 million. Made for about $25 million, the movie is heading for a profitable $90 million gross in North America alone.

In its second week on the top 10 charts, the lively and thought-provoking documentary Super Size Me earned over $800,000, taking its five-week total to $6.2 million.

The box office this week:

Rank

Film

Weekend gross

Total
gross

Number
of weeks

1

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

$92.64 million

$92.64

New

2

Shrek 2

$37 million (less 49% from the previous weekend)

$313.6

3

3

The Day After Tomorrow

$28 million (less 60% from the previous weekend)

$128.8m

2

4

Raising Helen

$6.6 million (less 39% from the previous weekend)

$24m

4

5

Troy

$5.7 million (less 52% from the previous weekend)

$119m

4

6

Mean Girls

$2.9 million (less 42% from the previous weekend)

$78m

6

7

Soul Plane

$2.8 million (less 49% from the previous weekend)

$11m

2

8

Van Helsing

$2.3 million (less 70% from the previous weekend)

$114.5m

5

9

Man On Fire

$1million (less 53% from the previous weekend)

$75m

7

10

Supersize Me

$835,170 (less 23% from the previous weekend)

$6.2m

5

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Arthur J Pais