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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 15:43 GMT
Potter breaks Japan records
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is doing great business round the world
Harry Potter has continued to blaze his way across the globe, this time smashing box office records in Japan.

Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone took 1.57bn yen (9m) in its first two days of release.

It beat the previous record holder, Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, by about 500,000.

The film opened at 340 cinemas across Japan on Saturday with about 1.4 million people going to see it, breaking the record set by Steven Spielberg's AI by 400,000.

Harry Potter is already very popular in Japan, with six million translated copies of JK Rowling's books sold there.

Pirate copies of Harry Potter are selling well in China
Pirate copies of Harry Potter are selling well in China

But the film's success in the Pacific region is facing a threat from piracy.

Traders in Macau are now selling Potter VCDs, weeks ahead of the film's Chinese premiere.

Pirated copies of Harry Potter video compact discs (VCDs) appeared in Hong Kong last Sunday - although the blockbuster will not open in cinemas in Hong Kong and Macau until 20 December.

"Business is great - we sold over 50 VCDs in just an hour last night after we got copies from an agent in Hong Kong," said a vendor in Macau's Inner Harbour district.

Records

The film is still doing a roaring trade in America, spending a third week on top of the box office charts, but box office experts doubt Harry Potter will knock Titanic from its perch as the biggest movie of all time.

It took US$24m (17m), a drop of 58% from the previous week, and it has now reached a total of $220m (154m) since its release.

US Box Office
1: Harry Potter
2: Behind Enemy Lines
3: Spy Game
4: Monsters, Inc
5: Black Knight
6: Shallow Hal
7: Out Cold
8: Domestic Disturbance
9: Amelie
10: Heist

The film failed to break the record set by Star Wars: Episode One for the quickest film to top $200m (140m).

Harry Potter took 15 days - three days longer than the George Lucas-directed movie.

But box office expert David Davies told showbusiness magazine Daily Variety that the film will need a big promotional push from makers Warner Brothers if it is to beat the 1.23bn achieved by Titanic.

He said: "I think it's conceivable Harry Potter could do a billion dollars worldwide with a real marketing push."

The only major new film released at the weekend, Behind Enemy Lines, opened strongly at number two taking $19.2m (13.5m).

Gene Hackman stars as a commanding officer who must save Navy pilot Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon) who has been shot down in enemy territory.

And animated movie Monsters, Inc slipped from number two to four, but it did cross the $200m (140m) mark in its fifth week of release.

French movie Amelie, which has proved a critical success, moved into the top 10 for the first time after taking $1.4m (984,000) over the weekend.

Julia Roberts will be hoping Ocean's Eleven is a success
Julia Roberts will be hoping Ocean's Eleven is a success

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's movie about a Paris waitress won the best film and director prizes at the European Film Awards in Berlin on Saturday and is strongly tipped to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Harry Potter will face his toughest challenge yet next weekend, as the eagerly awaited Steven Soderbergh remake of Ocean's Eleven is released in the States.

Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star in the crime caper set in Las Vegas.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davies Jnr starred in the original in 1960.

See also:

05 Nov 01 | Education
Harry Potter 'occult' warning
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