Fantastic Indeed: A History of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Movies at the Box Office

Images courtesy Warner Bros.

How many movie franchises can claim not just their own theme park ride, but their own theme park world? Based on the bestselling phenomenon novels by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. adapted the Harry Potter series into eight films, creating one of the largest pop culture phenomena of all time.

The movies continue to make waves even in recent months: the original installment was re-released theatrically last September, the franchise’s cast reunited in January for a television special, and Emma Watson referenced her role in the series when presenting the BAFTA for Best British Film in March.

Subsequent spinoff franchise Fantastic Beasts will see its third installment, The Secrets of Dumbledore, open nationwide and exclusively in cinemas on Friday, April 15. Ahead of that debut, let’s use our Pensieve (the magical device in the Harry Potter universe used to return to past memories) to review the films’ box office history, in chronological order.

Note: dollar amounts below only include a film’s original release, excluding subsequent re-releases, and are not adjusted for ticket price inflation.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

“The boy who lived.” With those four words, one of the most iconic characters was brought to the big screen. Directed by Chris Columbus, previously of Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, this opening installment introduced Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, an orphaned boy sent to a British boarding school for wizards and witches. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint costarred as Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, Harry’s two best friends, plus fan favorites like Alan Rickman as suspicious professor Severus Snape and Tom Felton as Harry’s rival Draco Malfoy.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $317.5M / #1

Overseas total / yearly rank: $657.1M / #1

Global total / yearly rank: $974.7M / #1

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

The gang is all one year older for Harry’s second year at school, but somebody has released an ancient beast that threatens to kill students. Columbus returned to direct this installment, which also added Kenneth Branagh as vain professor Gilderoy Lockhart and Jason Isaacs as the snarling Lucius Malfoy.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $261.9M / #4 (behind Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones)

Overseas total: $616.9M / #1

Global total: $878.9M / #2 (behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

The films took a noticeably darker tone with this installment, directed by Alfonso Cuarón—an eyebrow-raising choice whose two prior films were both rated R. (His subsequent films would include Roma, Gravity, and Children of Men.) Gary Oldman joined the cast as Harry’s godfather Sirius Black, Emma Thompson joined as Professor Sybil Trelawney, while Michael Gambon replaced the late Richard Harris as the Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore. This was also the final installment in which the score was composed by the legendary John Williams. 

Domestic total / yearly rank: $249.5M / #6 (behind Shrek 2Spider-Man 2, The Passion of the Christ, Meet the Fockers, and The Incredibles)

Overseas total: $546.0M / #1

Global total: $795.6M / #2 (behind Shrek 2)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Often considered the “pivot point” of the series, as the exact middle fourth of the seven original novels, this installment sees Harry deal with more adolescent issues like first love. Mike Newell, who had previously helmed Four Weddings and a Funeral and Mona Lisa Smile, directed. Future Batman portrayer Robert Pattinson joined the cast as Cedric Diggory, one of Harry’s opponents in a tournament across multiple wizarding schools, while Ralph Fiennes joined as Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed Harry’s parents as a baby.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $290.0M / #3 (behind Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Overseas total: $605.9M / #1

Global total: $895.9M / #1

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

David Yates joined as director, after previously almost exclusively helming short films, television episodes, and TV movie—but he would go on to direct not only all the remaining Potter films, but all the Fantastic Beasts films as well. Helena Bonham Carter joined as Voldemort’s henchwoman Bellatrix Lestrange. Radcliffe says this was tied for his favorite Potter film along with the final installment, though he acknowledged that not many people agree with his Phoenix ranking. This was also the only Potter installment not scripted by Steve Kloves, who handed the reins to Michael Goldenberg.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $292.0M / #5 (behind Spider-Man 3Shrek the ThirdTransformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End)

Overseas total: $649.6M / #2 (behind At World’s End)

Global total: $941.6M / #2 (also behind At World’s End)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Harry learns about the origin story of his enemy Voldemort as the war for control of the wizarding world escalates around him and he begins falling in love with his best friend’s sister Ginny Weasley, played by Bonnie Wright.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $301.9M / #3 (behind Avatar and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)

Overseas total: $632.0M / #3 (behind Avatar and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Global total: $933.9M / #2 (behind Avatar)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

The final book was split into two parts, even though it wasn’t actually the longest book, a status held by Order of the Phoenix. This sparked a trend which several other young-adult adaptations copied, including Mockingjay parts 1 and 2 to end the Hunger Games franchise and Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2 to end the Twilight franchise.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $295.9M / #5 (behind Toy Story 3, the live-action Alice in WonderlandIron Man 2, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

Overseas total: $680.5M / #2 (behind Alice in Wonderland)

Global total: $976.5M / #3 (behind Toy Story 3 and Alice)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

For this final installment, posters and advertisements used the succinct tagline “It all ends.” Harry must use the three deathly hallows, three magical objects which together can thwart death, while destroying the seven objects into which Voldemort has stored pieces of his soul. This is the top-rated Potter film among IMDb users, and is the only Potter movie to rank in the all-time top 200 (currently standing at #179).

Domestic total / yearly rank: $381.0M / #1

Overseas total: $960.5M / #1

Global total: $1.34B / #1

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Penned by Rowling as her first movie screenplay, this prequel spinoff series stars Eddie Redmayne as a zoologist for magical creatures . Compared to the almost universally-beloved original Potter series for both the films and the books alike, the spinoff series has faced a much more mixed reception from audiences, critics, and at the box office—particularly the domestic box office.

Domestic total / yearly rank: $234.0M / #12

Overseas total: $580.0M / #4

Global total: $814.0M / #8

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Johnny Depp joined as title villain Gellert Grindelwald while Jude Law joined as a young version of Albus Dumbledore, the character made famous as a wise centenarian in the original Potter installments. 

Domestic total / yearly rank: $159.5M / #20

Overseas total: $495.3M / #11

Global total: $654.8M / #10

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

This installment was co-written by both Rowling and Kloves, who wrote seven of the eight Potter screenplays and marks his return to the franchise, as Mads Mikkelsen replaces Depp in the Grindelwald role. 

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