Harry Potter, Inc: How the Boy Wizard Created a $21 Billion Business

Even before the first ticket was sold to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II, the boy wizard had become the king of a $21 billion Warner Bros empire and the most successful franchise in movie history.

The billions don't come from where you'd think. American movie audiences are taught to judge films by their opening weekends. But the seven Harry Potter openings -- totaling just shy of $700 million -- account for only three percent of Warner Bros' total haul. Total U.S. box office barely scratches 9 percent of Harry's $21 billion industry.



Merchandise is the big surprise here, generating a third of total revenue. Equally surprising is that TV, video games and rentals equaled total worldwide box office. To dig deeper, here's the complete breakdown of the Potter Empire by category:


Pottermania extends miles beyond the cineplex. The soundtrack sold 1.3 million copies, alone. The 2010 Quidditch World Cup in New York hosted 20,000 spectators with 46 teams. "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," a theme park at Universal Orlando Resort (featuring a recreation of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade) has made $364 million since it opened in 2010.

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Madeleine Kruhly writes and produces for The Atlantic.

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