By Amanda Diaz
Harry Potter may have cast his spell over the Australian box office for the second week in a row, but the teen wizard’s magic hasn’t caught on in local IMAX cinemas.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is currently playing on 108 IMAX screens globally – more than any other IMAX release before it – including box office smashes Avatar and Alice in Wonderland.
While the IMAX version of the film has been popular, manager of Melbourne’s IMAX Theatre, Richard Morrison, believes the seventh installment of the franchise would have earned more if it had been in 3D.
“It’s certainly been a successful film in its own right,” he says. “But it’s suffered because it wasn’t in 3D.”
Deathly Hallows: Part I was originally due to be released in 3D but five weeks prior to the film’s November 18 release, Warner Bros announced that they would not be able to complete the conversion in time.
“We, in alignment with our filmmakers, believe this is the best course to take,” said the studio in October.
Deathly Hallows: Part I posted the eighth biggest opening weekend in Australian box office history, taking just over $19 million across all cinemas.
Although the IMAX theatre sold more than 4500 tickets in advance for the 2D version of the film, screenings stopped selling out after the first weekend.
No IMAX box office records have been broken (the current benchmark being Avatar which sold out 152 consecutive IMAX screenings in its first six weeks). According to Morrison, without the 3D element, viewers are less likely to seek out the experience.
“That’s why our box office figures are soft. We’re only just past the second week, but the takings definitely would have been higher if it were in 3D.”
While earnings have waned locally, the film has continued to go from strength to strength in the United States.
Deathly Hallows: Part I played on 239 IMAX screens across America on its second weekend, generating $US5.4 million at the box office.
IMAX’s total worldwide gross to date for the movie is approximately $US31 million.
The previous two films, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince both played in IMAX 3D – though they cumulatively contained only 35 minutes worth of 3D scenes.
Morrison's hopes are vested in the final chapter in the saga. Deathly Hallows: Part II – out July 15, 2011 – will be the first Potter film entirely in 3D. He said that anticipated standouts like the Battle of Hogwarts are perfect for IMAX.
“Event films always translate really well to the big screen,” he says. “I fully expect part two will surpass all previous films’ takings for us. Partly because it’s the bookend of the series, but also because it’s in 3D.”
For more on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, check out the upcoming December-January issue of INSIDEFILM magazine, out next week.