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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 10:58 GMT
Harry Potter takings equal Star Wars
Harry Potter
Harry Potter has broken box office records
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has equalled America's biggest movie, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, in its first five days.

The Potter film and its Star Wars rival are the only two movies in US history to have grossed $100m (£70.6m) in the US and Canada just after their release.

However, there is a market the boy wizard may find more challenging - the Japanese one, which is still dominated by the animated film Spirited Away.

Director Hayao Miyazaki's picture, which tells the tale of a young girl trapped in the spirit world, has shattered box office records since its July release.

'Gigantic'

Admissions have easily surpassed those for Titanic, the previous record holder, according to the magazine Screen International.

International editor Patrick Frater said Spirited Away had been seen by around one in five of the population in Japan, and had taken $167m (£118m) by October alone.

To understand the popularity of the film in its home culture, he said, one must bear in mind that Japan's population was around two-and-a-half times smaller than that of the US.

Fans
Hundreds of fans in the US queued

The figure of $167m could therefore be multiplied by two and a half to give a very rough idea of how much Harry Potter would have to make in the US in order to compare.

Spirited Away was "truly gigantic", Frater said.

Titanic challenge

Despite Harry Potter's record figures, some box office analysts predicted it would not be able to match the global might of Titanic.

Titanic eventually took $600m (£423m) during its extended run in worldwide theatres.

But Harry Potter star Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid, was more positive about beating the target.

"I think it's going to hammer Titanic. I am very, very optimistic," he said at the recent New York première.

Richard Harris as Dumbledore
Richard Harris is the Hogwarts head

It became the most successful opener in the UK, taking £16m during its first three days.

The film also caused a stir as it prepares to open in cinemas elsewhere.

The Canadian Royal Mint announced it planned to produce a set of Potter commemorative medallions showing characters from the book and the film.

Meanwhile, Catalan speakers in Spain were up in arms after it was revealed that the film, released there on 30 November, will only be available with dubbing in Spanish.

Bootleg

As boycotts were threatened, Warner Brothers insisted that the sequels would include dubbing in Catalan.

It promised to provide English-version prints to the Catalonia region in Eastern Spain, so Catalan subtitles can be used.

In China, bootleg copies of the film went on sale on the black market ahead of its release.

Dark and grainy copies, probably shot using a handheld camera in a cinema, appeared on the streets of Beijing.

See also:

22 Nov 01 | Scotland
Potter creator buys Scots hideaway
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