Originally Published: July 23, 2011 10 p.m.
The last installment of the "Harry Potter" franchise burst onto movie screens this past week, but Dylan Stewart, unlike many of his peers, wasn't having any of it.
Stewart, 11, was set on watching "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which he thought was the best of the three-movie series.
"I think it was really good," he said.
An executive from Harkins Theatres said the summer of sequels is drawing strong crowds. Bryan Laurel, director of marketing for the Scottsdale-based theater chain, said Wednesday afternoon that "Harry Potter" led the charge, shattering ticket sales since its midnight release June 14.
The chain saw tickets sell out at a majority of their theaters and some actually sold out every single screen in the building, according to Laurel.
"It's going to be awhile until we see another franchise like 'Harry Potter,'" he said.
Laurel said the movie played to sold-out auditoriums throughout the weekend in Prescott Valley.
The "Harry Potter" movie hit the record books with the highest-grossing opening weekend in history, drawing $169.2 million on 11,100 screens at 4,375 locations, according to boxofficemojo.com.
"Potter" pushed the "Transformers" movie into a distant second place. That movie's weekend gross was more than $21.3 million. "Horrible Bosses" fell from second to third with a weekend gross of more than $17.7 million.
The "Potter" flick was the tentpole of a summer movie season rife with sequels, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," "Cars 2" and "The Hangover 2."
Laurel said people are drawn to sequels to follow the characters they enjoy and connect with from previous movies.
"This summer's been extremely strong for the industry and for us at Harkins," he said. "This summer we're head and shoulders above last year."
"Inception," "Iron Man 2," "Shrek Forever After" and "Toy Story 3" were the heavy-hitters this past summer.
Still, economic uncertainty and a flood of movie options give movie watchers like the Compton family a reason to be selective theatergoers.
Beth, her husband Scott, and their two children saw the "Potter" movie Wednesday afternoon.
It's their first summer movie and Beth said it's likely their only summer movie for the single-income family.
"We don't like crowds," she said, adding that they often use Netflix for movies.
Nevertheless, Laurel said attendance is thriving because the experience of a huge screen, comfortable chairs and strong sound system beats home theaters or hand-held gadgets.
"The rumors of the demise of the theater multiplex really is exaggerated," he said. "We are seeing an uptick in attendance this summer."