It’s a weekend for old friends as movie goers bid adieu to Harry Potter and the students of Hogwarts and welcome back a beloved old bear named Winnie the Pooh.
The undisputed juggernaut is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, which opens Friday at nearly 4,400 theaters — making it the third-widest opening of all time. The film brings the beloved series to close, wrapping up the final tome in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy novel series. Reviews for the finale have so far been stellar, with fans and critics alike giving the film, directed by David Yates, thrilling early reviews.
In addition to closing out an era for Warner Bros.’ 10-year mega franchise and its stars, it also ends an era for the many visual effects studios that helped bring the film to life. The finale features work by Baseblack, Double Negative, Cinesite, MPC, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures, Animal Logic, Tippett Studio and Lola VFX — among others.
The sole new major studio competition for the weekend is Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, a traditional 2D animated feature that brings back the beloved bear and the rest of the denizens of the Hundred Acre Woods. Pooh is set to play at some 2,400 cinemas. Directed by Steven J. Anderson and Don Hall, the film has already played extensively overseas.
Winnie the Pooh also will feature the 2D Disney animated short film The Ballad of Nessie.
Reviews are positive for Pooh, though few expect it will have enough box office muscle to put more than a dent in Potter’s take, or even to topple the running champion Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Other strong holdovers include the comedies Horrible Bosses and Zookeeper.