The new Harry Potter movie may well be wowing critics with its dark and adult content and themes, but the lack of a 3D version of the movie is hitting IMAX cinemas where it hurts – right in the box-office takings.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is currently playing on 108 IMAX screens globally, more IMAXes than any other release to date, including 3D hits such as Avatar, How To Train Your Dragon and Alice in Wonderland.
However, the new Harry Potter IMAX takings are "soft" according to Richard Morrison, manager of Melbourne's IMAX Theatre.
Morrison's IMAX theatre sold over 4500 tickets in advance for the 2D version of the film, but soon stopped selling out after the first weekend. In comparison Avatar sold out 152 consecutive IMAX screenings in its first six weeks
While the movie is still proving popular in IMAX theatres, Morrison claims that the seventh Potter movie would have made more money had it been produced in 3D.
"It's certainly been a successful film in its own right," the IMAX manager told Inside Film. "But it's suffered because it wasn't in 3D… the takings definitely would have been higher if it were in 3D."
"I fully expect part two will surpass all previous films' takings for us," Morrison added, referring to the forthcoming final chapter in the Potter series. "Partly because it's the bookend of the series, but also because it's in 3D."
Deathly Hallows: Part I was originally planned to me made in 3D, but Warner was not able to complete the 3D conversion in time for the movie's November release, with the studio announcing prior to the movie's launch that they thought it "the best course to take."
Strangely, the previous two films Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince did run in IMAX 3D–although the two movies only contain around 35 minutes worth of 3D scenes between them.
Potter fans are already looking forward to the final chapter in the series, as well as the first fully-3D Potter movie – with Deathly Hallows: Part II out on July 15, 2011