mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

Harry Potter and the Opening Weekend Comparison

Film and media critic Dan Kimmel has a saying I often like to quote regarding movies and books:

"A book that sells a million copies is a bestseller; a movie that sells a million tickets is a flop."

In other words, because movies cost so much more to produce and distribute than books, a studio has to sell many more tickets than a publisher has to sell books to recoup their costs and make a profit. And usually, any given weekend, more people will buy tickets to a particular film than will buy copies of a particular book.

You can probably already see where this is going.

Back in 2003, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out the same weekend as the movie Hulk. As it so happened, Hulk was the #1 movie that weekend, but it made less money than Order of the Phoenix did in that same weekend. In other words, the Harry Potter book had a better opening weekend than the #1 movie that weekend.

Guess what? It's happened again.

According to the latest statistics I have found, the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory earned $55.4 million this weekend, securing the #1 spot. But Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has sold 6.9 million copies.

Admittedly, I don't have the proper stats to compare number of tickets versus number of books, or the amount of money earned by each. But if we assume that the average ticket price for a movie is $10 (which admittedly is a gross overestimate, because the average throughout the entire USA is about $6-$7), and if we assume that the average price paid for the new Harry Potter book was $15 (which is an underestimate, because the book costs $30 and most discounts don't go below 40%), then we get the following:

Harry Potter: sold 6.9 million copies; earned $103.5 millon
Charlie: sold 5.5 million tickets; earned $55.4 million

Harry Potter has done it again. Even if my estimate of the cost of the movie ticket is wrong, and Charlie sold more tickets, it still earned less money.

(I leave it others to discuss the irony that the #1 movie was, after all, based on a popular children's book...)
Tags: books, movies

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