HP7 or, Harry Potter 7 or HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS slammed the box office this weekend. The tally, which is probably inflated,Â is $330 million. Like a fisherman who won the bass fishing tournament, Warner Brothers will be puffing out its chest, high fiving everyone in site and bragging incessantly about its triumph. Of curse, this $330 million number is worldwide, with $125 million coming from what is known as the domestic market, i.e. the United States.
For those who like to observe the somewhat inane practice of watching how much money is deposited by theaters after a three day weekend, it is illustrative to know that 62% of that humongous number came from the overseas market, i.e. the rest of the world.
62%. It says a lot. First of all it says what most movie industry insiders know. Hollywood is not an American dream factory. It is a global one. They know it and they plan for it. Many films being made in Hollywood are constructed to be globally appealing. Idiosyncratic parochial references are stripped out of the script to make it appeal to the Nascar dad to the Nairobi mom. In some ways this will 'dumb down' a movie, but in other ways it will engender a worldwide commonality. It may even bring disparate, fractional parts of the world together.
Yet that is talking about the impact of movies in general. Harry Potter is a specific case. The Harry Potter series has out grossed the Star Wars series. There are similarities in story line. Both have a heroes quest. Both have a small band of heroes, fighting their own demons, to fight a greater evil. And both will triumphant in the end. And while Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far away, Harry Potter is closer to home, closer to our time. This make Harry Potter a millennial phenomena.
Harry Potter is a bespectacled, orphan with a mysterious past. Through the help of friend and his own innate talents he rises above his lot in life to become the 'chosen one', the wizard who will bring the evil Voldemort down. There is universal appeal in that concept. How many myths portray a similar theme? Many. There is a need for our myths, our stories to assuage our day to day lives with the hope, the dream of displaying our talents, doing good and being triumphant. Harry Potter does that for the students at Hogwarts, the suburban mall rats in America, the families across the Globe. Simply put, Harry Potter is a man for our times, whether you like it or not.
Garen Daly is a film analyst for WGBH radio, NH Public Radio and Gather.com. He is also an award winning film programmer who produces the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival.