July 14th, 2011
08:16 AM GMT
(CNN) – The latest Harry Potter movie has already broken box office records – and it hasn’t even opened yet.
Pre-ordered tickets for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” have brought in $25 million in the U.S. alone. The film is due for release this Friday.
Not exactly a surprise for a movie franchise that is already king of the box office. Raking in $6.37 billion worldwide, Harry Potter has banked more billions than any movie featuring Luke Skywalker, Frodo and James Bond. The Potter franchise has also made more money than the Matrix, Twilight and X-Men franchises combined.
Take a look at the highest worldwide grossing franchises and number of installments, according to box-office research website The Numbers.
2. James Bond (23) $5.07 billion
3. Star Wars (8) $4.41 billion
4. Pirates of the Caribbean (4) $3.7 billion
5. Shrek (4) $2.96 billion
6. Lord of the Rings (3) $2.91 billion
7. Batman (8) $2.65 billion
8. Spider-Man (3) $2.49 billion
9. Transformers (3) $2.19 billion
10. Jurassic Park (3) $2.08 billion
11. Indiana Jones (4) $1.98 billion
12. Toy Story (3) $1.95 billion
13. Ice Age (3) $1.92 billion
14. X-Men (5) $1.88 billion
15. Twilight (4) $1.81 billion
16. Matrix (3) $1.62 billion
17. Chronicles of Narnia (3) $1.58 billion
18. Fast and Furious (5) $1.57 billion
19. Star Trek (11) $1.46 billion
20. Mission: Impossible (3) $1.4 billion
So what’s the secret to the Harry Potter franchise success?
Much ink has been spilled on why Harry Potter captivates audiences, but its widespread appeal – riding off the books’ popularity – is what seems to sell tickets. As a 2009 Newsweek blog pointed out, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy called upon a more niche audience. Even the unprecedented success of Batman installment “The Dark Knight”, which grossed more that $1 billion worldwide according to stats website Box Office Mojo, seems unlikely to be repeated, as that movie’s ticket sales were propelled by the untimely death of one of its stars, Newsweek speculated.
Yet this is the beauty of the franchise – once a viewer watches one movie in the series, they just keep going back for more. Even the delivery of the classic complaint that the sequel is not as good as the original requires a return trip to the cinema, if only for vindication.
Sequels have come a long way since what is often considered to be their start – 1916’s “The Fall of a Nation,” the follow-up to the Ku Klux Klan film “The Birth of a Nation.” Hollywood quickly learned that the built-in audience a franchise provides is a safe bet for box office success. Since then, audiences have witnessed the release of 23 James Bond films, 11 Star Trek installments, and 12 movies of Friday the 13th.
This summer, cinema listings are full of sequels, among them “The Hangover 2,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and “Transformers 3.” With a slew of follow-up films including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” slated for release in 2012, franchises are here to stay.
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