“This Week In Movies” – ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,’ ‘The Next Three Days’

By Pete Hammond

HollywoodNews.com: This week in movies there is one story and it looms large. Every conceivable “Harry Potter” record was broken by Warner Bros. massive worldwide launch of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.” With an estimated $125 million total domestically and a whopping $330 million combined figure globally the box office spell has been cast . ‘Potter’ fans turned out in force starting at Midnight on Friday and gave this first part of the big finale an encouraging ‘A’ grade on Cinemascore. Of course this is the faithful talking, the can’t –wait-to-see-it-even-though-I-have-read-the-book-12-times-and-know-everything-that-is-going-to-happen bunch. To give you an idea of just how front-loaded this thing was there was a fairly significant drop from Friday to Saturday but in the scheme of things that drop was in a bucket. This is why Warner Bros has decided to get even deeper into the movie tentpole blockbuster business, threatening to unleash 8 biggies a year in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. Not everything has the savvy magic of Harry P though. This is a true phenomenon. I only wish the film itself were not such a dark, overlong slog that basically serves as nothing more than a teaser to the main event, the big showdown between Voldemort and Harry coming with the 3D converted Part II in July. Can you just imagine what those grosses are going to be like? I actually think the HP filmmakers slavish attention to every dotted i in J.K. Rowling’s prose is what makes this one such a long sit, but it clearly doesn’t matter to fans. You would think they would at least miss Hogwarts, all but completely absent here. And the whole romantic triangle business between Harry, Hermione and Ron is just sooooooo ‘Twilight-lite’. Am I alone, here? Guess so. Can’t argue with cold hard cash.

Judging from the abysmal performance of the week’s only other wide release, “The Next Three Days,” it might be wise for any competitor to steer clear of Part II come summer. This pretty good Russell Crowe thriller about a nebbishy husband-turned-criminal in order to spring his wife (Elizabeth Banks) from prison posted a terrible 5th place estimate of $6.8 million failing to draw the hoped-for adult audience in. Writer/Director Paul Haggis smartly adapted a French film, “Pour Elle” and made it percolate with suspense and fine acting, not only from Crowe but also a cool supporting cast including Liam Neeson and Brian Dennehy who steals the film as his father. Unfortunately, the first three days of “The Next Three Days” do not augur well for a run through the holidays. It’s best and only hope is that the slow-to-move adult audience to which it is aimed keeps it in the mix over Thanksgiving or Russell will be eating Crow(e). And he thought Voldemort is going to have a tough time with Harry Potter! Still movies like “Red” and “Secretariat” have shown impressive legs, hanging in there week after week thanks to the slower movie-going habits of the older audience and the same could happen here. Or so Lions Gate can only hope.

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About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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