Harry Potter Puts a Spell on IMAX

While you were getting ready for last weekend's premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the stock market was already rewarding IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX  ) for what turned out to be a record-breaking weekend. Investors in Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) had apparently already priced in a big weekend, but IMAX investors got a late notice, pushing the stock up nearly 17% since the start of last week.

Unlike most blockbusters this year, Harry Potter didn't have the help of RealD (NYSE: RLD  ) 3-D or IMAX 3-D to push numbers higher. The only premium option was IMAX 2-D, but that didn’t stop movie patrons from shelling out a few extra Galleons to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione on an extra-large screen. The film set the record for overall IMAX box office in an opening weekend and the domestic showing stacks up pretty well against other big movies this year.

Film

IMAX Opening Weekend Domestic Box Office

Percent of Total Box Office

Domestic IMAX Theatres

Box Office Per Theatre

Avatar

$9.5 Million

13.0%

178

$53,400

Alice in Wonderland

$12.1 Million

10.5%

188

$64,400

Inception

$7.2 Million

11.5%

197

$36,500

Harry Potter

$11.8 Million

9.4%

239

$49,400

Inception and Harry Potter were both 2-D films, which don’t command quite the attention and dollars from IMAX theaters, accounting for some of the per-screen box office drop-off. Still, the low percentage of total domestic box office leaves me wondering if IMAX has lost its touch or if it's suffering at the hands of a younger audience that isn’t as willing to go for the premium ticket. DreamWorks (Nasdaq: DWA  ) and Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) Pixar films have both had less than 10% of domestic box office at IMAX theaters as well, so maybe I shouldn't overreact to the single-digit percentage.

The record weekend should lead to a solid result in the fourth quarter, but will probably fall short of the first quarter, which Avatar dominated. Avatar ended up making more than $200 million in IMAX box office and it's probably a bit of a stretch to expect that from Harry Potter.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium is long shares of IMAX. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his Motley Fool CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

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