All hail king ‘Harry’ the fourth
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – With the fourth ” Harry Potter” film opening across North America Friday, the beloved franchise doesn’t show any sign of losing momentum.
Energized with an older-skewing PG-13 rating and excellent reviews, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is set to open in the same phenomenal $85 million-$90 million range as its predecessors.
From “Four Weddings and a Funeral” director Mike Newell, the film is sure to decimate everything in its path, including Sony’s lackluster “Zathura” and Walt Disney Pictures’ “Chicken Little,” which has enjoyed two “Potter”-free weeks atop the box office. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox will try its luck with the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.”
“Goblet of Fire” will open in more theaters (3,858) than any other “Potter” film. The fourth installment, which essentially follows Harry Potter’s transformation into adulthood, also boasts the second-longest run time (156 minutes) and the first theatrical appearance of much-talked-about villain Lord Voldemort ( Ralph Fiennes).
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, now 16, as Harry, the film deals with such themes as death and teenage love. The story is set primarily during the Triwizard Tournament, a competition that pits Harry against three young challengers and a slew of dangerous tasks. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson reprise their roles as Harry’s pals Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively. Miranda Richardson joins the cast as Rita Skeeter, a nosy journalist out to get Harry.
“Goblet of Fire,” like the first three “Potter” films, also will be shown in Imax theaters. The first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” directed by Chris Columbus, opened to $90 million in 2001, while the second, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” bowed to $88 million in 2002. The third and only film to be released in the summer, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” opened in June 2004 to $94 million. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, “Azkaban” was the best-reviewed of the three.
Hoping to attract “Potter’s” aging readership, “Goblet of Fire’s” more sophisticated PG-13 rating could boost grosses.
Fox’s “Walk the Line,” meanwhile, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the late Man in Black, has most been compared to Universal Pictures’ Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic “Ray,” which opened to $20 million in October 2004. Also rated PG-13, “Line,” which focuses on Cash’s early career and his love affair with June Carter ( Reese Witherspoon), might not be as widely accessible as “Ray.” Industry insiders peg the film’s opening in the $18 million-$20 million range. James Mangold (“Cop Land”) directs.
Universal Pictures will rerelease its box office disappointment “Cinderella Man” in five theaters as a reminder to Oscar voters. From director Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger, the well-reviewed film generated $62 million when it bowed in early June.
In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics will open Neil Jordan’s “Breakfast on Pluto.” Starring Cillian Murphy as an Irish transvestite who is arrested after the bombing of a London disco, the R-rated “Pluto” aims to shock as much as Jordan’s “The Crying Game” did in 1992.
All hail king ‘Harry’ the fourth