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"Harry Potter" Tops Highest-Grossing Film Franchises

2011 Warner Bros. Ent./ Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R.(NEW YORK) -- Harry Potter is the box office's highest grossing film franchise, according to Forbes.  But Lord of the Rings is a serious contender, with new films hitting screens.

The latest movie in the Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is out on Friday.  It is the first of three films to be drawn from J.R.R. Tolkien's book, The Hobbit.

"This past summer the wise (some might say greedy) men at Warner Bros. decided to split The Hobbit into three separate movies," wrote Dorothy Pomerantz of Forbes.  "The move left many scratching their heads.  The Hobbit is the slimmest of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels at only one-quarter the length of the other three books combined.  Can it work as three movies?"

They have a long way to go to beat the eight-film adaption of the seven-book Harry Potter series, which has earned $7.7 billion.  The Lord of the Rings films have earned $2.91 billion in ticket sales so far, ranking the series ninth among franchises.

Forbes used data from Box Office Mojo to compile its list of global box office hits, not adjusting for price inflation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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