Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 07-11-11

On the set of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2”

On the set of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2”

Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris”

Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris”

“WINNIE THE POOH” Left to right: Kanga, Roo, Owl, Tigger, Piglet (top), Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Rabbit ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

“WINNIE THE POOH” Left to right: Kanga, Roo, Owl, Tigger, Piglet (top), Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Rabbit ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Hallows” happiness: Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” franchise has already generated $2 billion domestically, but that’s about to get cranked up thanks to this weekend’s eighth and final episode, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

It goes without saying that “Hallows 2” will dominate the boxoffice. It’s been tracking through the roof with solid double digits as moviegoers’ first choice film, so a $100 million-plus launch seems a safe bet.

“Hallows 2” has been tracking best with under-25 females and nearly as well with under-25 males. It’s also looking pretty good with 25+ females. Adult males are its weakest demo, but even those numbers are way better than what other films are scoring.

“Hallows, Part 1” opened last Nov. 19 to $125 million at 4,125 theatres and went on to gross $295 million domestically. “Hallows 2,” which will be in 4,200 or more theatres, stands to do better. Not only does it conclude the series, making it a must-see for fans, but it has the advantage of summer playing time. Because kids are out of school, Hollywood says “every night’s a Saturday night” in the summer.

This summer’s already seen Paramount and Hasbro’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” soar to about $261 million, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ “The Hangover, Part II” hit $250 million and Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” crack $236 million. “Hallows 2,” which has the advantage over “Hallows 1” of being shown in 3D at premium ticket prices, should wind up in the rarefied $300 millions.

It also helps that “Hallows 2” isn’t facing any real competition for moviegoers’ time and money. The only other new wide release this weekend is Disney’s animated family film “Winnie the Pooh,” which has been tracking poorly.

Of course, family films sometimes open better than their tracking suggests. That was the case last weekend with Columbia and Happy Madison Productions’ PG comedy “Zookeeper,” which arrived to about $21 million despite its modest tracking scores. “Winnie” could surprise a bit, as well. It’s a long established Disney brand and a safe choice for parents with little kids who might be terrified by “Hallows 2.”

Also surprising last weekend was New Line and Rat Entertainment’s R rated Jennifer Aniston comedy “Horrible Bosses,” which under-performed in the tracking, but still managed to kick off to about $28 million. It’s one more example of moviegoers’ embracing girls-or-boys behaving badly on screen this summer. But it’s not likely to wind up in the boxoffice big leagues with “Hangover 2” ($250 million-plus) or “Bridesmaids” (pushing $160 million) or even “Bad Teacher” (closing in on $80 million).

This weekend’s other movie to keep an eye on is Sony Pictures Classics’ critically acclaimed romantic comedy “Midnight in Paris.” It’s heading down the homestretch to become writer-director Woody Allen’s biggest boxoffice hit ever.

“Midnight” already has about $39 million under its boxoffice belt. If it can push past $40.1 million it will beat Woody’s all-time record with his 1986 romantic comedy “Hannah and Her Sisters.” To pull it off, “Midnight” needs to hold on to most of its 819 theatres, which won’t be the easiest thing to do in its ninth week in the midst of a very crowded summer movie marketplace.

SPC’s clearly determined to get there and the Hollywood buzz is that it’s leaning on theatre owners wherever possible to push them to keep playing “Midnight.” I’m hoping that works out because “Midnight’s” one of the year’s best movies. Everyone I’ve recommended it to has come back to tell me how much they loved it.

Looking ahead, “Midnight’s” a very strong candidate for Oscar nominations in key categories like best picture, director, original screenplay and cinematography. It also should have a very strong shot at Golden Globes noms for best comedy or musical, director and screenplay. Its awards potential could result in SPC putting it back in theatres when Academy voters are marking their ballots.

Bottom line: Talking about Oscars, it’s worth remembering that the final episode in New Line’s “Lord of the Rings” franchise, 2003’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” wound up winning 11 Oscars, including best picture.

As its series’ concluding film, “Hallows 2” is a likely candidate for Oscar and Golden Globes consideration. It helps that like “Rings,” the “Harry Potter” franchise hasn’t resonated much over the years with Academy voters. It’s had nine nominations, mostly in technical categories, and no wins.

That improves the final episode’s prospects for Oscar recognition in prime races like best picture, director (David Yates), adapted screenplay (Steve Kloves) and possibly for actor (Daniel Radcliffe). Also in “Hallows 2’s“ favor — it’s a huge hit with critics and at this writing has a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

By the way, even though the Oscars are still a long way off — nominations will be announced Jan. 24 at 5:30 a.m. and the 84th Annual Academy Awards presentation will take place Feb. 26 — this is the time of year when the studios’ Oscar marketing consultants start getting their deals in place. This is when the awards gurus begin thinking about what they've got to work with and what their competition’s likely to be.