After burying Dobby, Harry Potter asks the goblin Griphook to help him, Ron, and Hermione break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at Gringotts bank, suspecting a Horcrux may be there. Griphook agrees, in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Wandmaker Ollivander tells Harry that two wands taken from Malfoy Manor belonged to Bellatrix and to Draco Malfoy, but Malfoy's has changed its allegiance to Harry.
In Bellatrix's vault, Harry discovers the Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff's cup. He retrieves it, but Griphook snatches the sword and abandons the trio, leaving them cornered by security. The three release the dragon guardian and flee on its back. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort killing goblins, including Griphook, and learns Voldemort is aware of the theft. Harry also realises there is a Horcrux at Hogwarts somehow connected to Rowena Ravenclaw. The trio apparate into Hogsmeade, where Aberforth Dumbledore reluctantly instructs the portrait of his deceased younger sister, Ariana, to fetch Neville Longbottom, who leads the trio through a secret passageway into Hogwarts.
Severus Snape hears of Harry's return and warns staff and students of punishment for aiding Harry. Harry confronts Snape, who flees after Minerva McGonagall challenges him to a duel. McGonagall gathers the Hogwarts community for battle. At Luna Lovegood's insistence and Cho Chang's knowledge, Harry speaks to Helena Ravenclaw's ghost, who reveals that Voldemort performed "dark magic" on her mother's diadem, which is in the Room of Requirement. In the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione destroy the Horcrux cup with a Basilisk fang. Afterwards, the two share a kiss. In the Room of Requirement, Draco, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle attack Harry after he finds the diadem, but Ron and Hermione intervene. Goyle casts a Fiendfyre curse and, unable to control it, is swallowed up by the flames while Harry and his friends save Malfoy and Zabini. Harry stabs the diadem with the Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the Room of Requirement, where it is destroyed. As Voldemort's army attacks, Harry, seeing into Voldemort's mind, realises that Voldemort's snake Nagini is the final Horcrux. The trio race through the entry courtyard, where a fierce battle is raging, to the Hogwarts' Boathouse, where they witness Voldemort incorrectly telling Snape that the Elder Wand cannot serve Voldemort until Snape dies since he killed its last owner (Dumbledore); he then orders Nagini to kill Snape, which Nagini does. Before dying, Snape tells Harry to take his memories to the Pensieve. In the chaos at Hogwarts, Fred, Lupin, and Tonks have been killed.
Harry learns from Snape's memories that while Snape despised Harry's late father, James, who had bullied him, he loved his late mother, Lily. Following her death, Snape worked secretly with Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort because of his love for Lily. Harry also learns Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him, and that the Patronus doe he saw in the woods that led him to the sword had been conjured by Snape. Harry discovers that he himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort originally failed to kill him and that Harry must die to destroy the piece of Voldemort's soul within him. Harry then surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse upon Harry, who finds himself in limbo, where Dumbledore's spirit meets him and explains that the part of Voldemort within Harry was killed by Voldemort's own curse. Harry then returns to his body, determined to defeat Voldemort once and for all.
Voldemort forces a grieving Rubeus Hagrid to carry Harry's presumed dead body and announces his apparent death to everyone at Hogwarts and demands they all surrender. As Neville gives a defiant response and draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, Harry reveals he is still alive. Many Death Eaters, including the Malfoys, abandon Voldemort. While Harry confronts Voldemort in a duel throughout the castle, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall, and Neville decapitates Nagini, leaving Voldemort mortal. Harry and Voldemort's fight ends with Harry rebounding Voldemort's own Killing Curse, killing him and obliterating him. After the battle, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione that the Elder Wand had recognised him as its true master because he had disarmed Draco, who earlier had disarmed its previous owner, Dumbledore, but instead of claiming the Elder Wand, Harry breaks and discards it.
Nineteen years later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco proudly watch their own children leave for Hogwarts at King's Cross station.
The roles of several minor characters were recast or replaced for this film. For example, Ciarán Hinds assumed the role of Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore's brother and bartender of the Hog's Head inn.
In the book, a significant number of characters who have not appeared since some of the earlier novels, reappear to defend Hogwarts in the large, final battle. Director David Yates said, "I want to get them all back", referring to his desire to bring back as many actors who have appeared in the franchise as possible for the climactic battle sequence in the film. Sean Biggerstaff, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Miriam Margolyes, and Emma Thompson reprise their roles from earlier films briefly during the battle scene. For the final scene in the film which is set nineteen years after the film's main story, the actors playing the main characters were made to look older through the use of makeup and special effects. After the initial look of the actors' aged appearances leaked onto the Internet, some fans reacted by opining that Radcliffe and Grint looked too old, while Watson did not appear significantly different at all. After primary filming filming concluded in June 2010, Yates examined the footage, and concluded that the problem could not be resolved through editing or CGI, and had the sequence re-shot that December, with redesigned makeup.
Part 2 was filmed back-to-back with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 from 19 February 2009 to 12 June 2010, with reshoots for the epilogue scene taking place at Leavesden Film Studios on 21 December 2010. Director David Yates, who shot the film with director of photography Eduardo Serra, described Part 2 as "operatic, colourful and fantasy-oriented", a "big opera with huge battles."
Originally set for a single theatrical release, the idea to split the book into two parts was suggested by executive producer Lionel Wigram due to, what David Heyman called, "creative imperative". Heyman initially responded negatively to the idea, but Wigram asked, “No, David. How are we going to do it?”. After rereading the book and discussing it with screenwriter Steve Kloves, he agreed with the division.
In an interview with Architectural Digest, production designer Stuart Craig remarked on creating sets for Part 2. Of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank, he said, "our banking hall, like any other, is made of marble and big marble columns. And it has great strength. The fact that the goblins are the bankers and tellers at the counter helps that feeling of grandeur and solidity and the big proportions. That was part of the fun of the set: we exaggerated the size of it, we exaggerated the weight of it, and we even exaggerated the shine of the marble." About the multiplication of treasure in one of the bank's vaults, he noted, "We made literally thousands of pieces for it and vacuum metallised them to be shiny gold and silver. John Richardson, the special effects supervisor, made a floor that was capable of rising on different levels, so there was kind of a physical swelling of the treasure on it."
Craig spoke about the Battle of Hogwarts to Art Insights Magazine, saying that "the great challenge is the destruction of Hogwarts. The sun rising behind the smoke ... the massive remains of destroyed walls, the entrance hall, the entrance of the Great Hall, part of the roof of the Great Hall completely gone, so yeah. A big challenge there and an enjoyable one really – maybe it helped me and the guys in the art department sort of prepare for the end ... we demolished it before we had to strike it completely." When asked about the King's Cross scene near the end of the film, Craig said, "We experimented a lot, quite honestly. I mean it was quite a protracted process really but we did experiment the sense of it being very burnt out very very kind of white – so we experimented with underlit floors, we experimented with different kind of white covering everything: white paint, white fabric, and the cameraman was involved in how much to expose it, and a series of camera tests were done, so we got there but with a great deal of preparation and research."
Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Burke said that "It was such a major job to stage the Battle of Hogwarts, and we had to do it in different stages of production. We had shots with complex linking camera moves from wide overviews, to flying into windows and interior spaces. So, we took the plunge at the end of 2008, and started rebuilding the school digitally with Double Negative." He went on to say that "It's taken two years – getting renders out, texturing every facet of the building, constructing interiors to see through windows, building a destruction version of the school. We can design shots with the knowledge that we have this brilliant digital miniature that we can do anything with. With a practical Hogwarts, we would have shot it last summer and been so tied down. Instead, as David Yates finds the flow and structure, we are able to handle new concepts and ideas."
On the quality of 3-D in film, Burke told Los Angeles Times, "I think it's good, actually. I think people are going to be really pleased. I know everyone's a little nervous and sceptical of 3-D these days, but the work has been done very, very well. We've done over 200 shots in 3-D and in the visual effects as well, because so much of it is CG, so the results are very, very good. I think everyone's going to be really impressed with it, actually." Producer David Heyman spoke to SFX magazine about the 3-D conversion, saying that "The way David Yates is approaching 3-D is he's trying to approach it from a character and story point of view. Trying to use the sense of isolation, of separation that sometimes 3-D gives you, to heighten that at appropriate moments. So we're approaching it in a storytelling way."
In 2012, the visual effects in the film were nominated for an Oscar. The film also won the BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects at the 65th BAFTA Awards in 2012.
It was confirmed that Part 1 composer, Alexandre Desplat, was set to return for Part 2. In an interview with Film Music Magazine, Desplat stated that scoring Part 2 is "a great challenge" and that he has "a lot of expectations to fulfill and a great deal of work" ahead of him. In a separate interview, Desplat also made note that John Williams' themes will be present in the film "much more than in part one." The soundtrack for the film was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.
In March 2011, the first preview for Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was released revealing new footage and new interviews from the starring cast. The first United States poster was released on 28 March 2011, with the caption "It All Ends 7.15" (referring to its international release date). On 27 April 2011 the first theatrical trailer for Part 2 was released. The trailer revealed a range of new and old footage. The IMAX trailer for the film was released with IMAX screenings of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on 20 May 2011. During the MTV Movie Awards on 5 June 2011, Emma Watson presented a sneak peek of the film.
On 2 April 2011, a test screening of the film was held in Chicago, with director David Yates, producers David Heyman and David Barron and editor Mark Day in attendance. The film had its world premiere on 7 July 2011 (2011-07-07) in Trafalgar Square in London. The United States premiere was held in New York City at Lincoln Center on 11 July 2011 (2011-07-11). Although filmed in 2-D, the film was converted into 3-D in post-production and was released in both RealD 3D and IMAX 3D.
The film was originally scheduled to open in Indonesia on 13 July 2011. The Indonesian government levied a new value added tax on royalties from foreign films in February 2011, causing three film studios, including Warner Brothers, to halt the importation of their films, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 into the country. The film was not released to cinemas in the Kingdom of Jordan due to recently enforced taxes on films. It had not been premiered in the Kingdom as of 13 August 2011.
On 10 June, one month before the film's release, tickets went on sale. On 16 June 2011, Part 2 received a 12A certificate from the British Board of Film Classification, who note that the film "contains moderate threat, injury detail and language", becoming the only Harry Potter film to receive a warning for "injury detail". At midnight 15 July, Part 2 screened in 3,800 cinemas. In the United States, it played in 4,375 cinemas, 3,100 3D cinemas and 274 IMAX cinemas, the widest release for an IMAX, 3D and a Harry Potter film.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was released on 11 November 2011 in the United States in four formats: a one-disc standard DVD, a two-disc standard DVD special edition, a one-disc standard Blu-ray, and three-Disc Blu-ray 2D Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy). In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the film was released on 2 December 2011 in three formats: a two-disc standard DVD, a three-disc Blu-ray 2D Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy), and a four-disc Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy). The film set the record for fastest-selling pre-order DVD and Blu-ray on Amazon.com, just two days into the pre-order period.
Deathly Hallows – Part 2 sold 2.71 million Blu-ray units ($60.75 million) in three days (Friday to Sunday). It also sold 2.83 million DVD units ($42.22 million) during its debut. By 18 July 2012 it had sold 4.71 million Blu-ray units ($99.33 million) and 6.47 million DVD units ($88.96 million).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 grossed $381,011,219 in the United States and Canada, along with $960,500,000 in other markets, for a worldwide total of $1,341,511,219. In worldwide earnings, it is currently the eighth highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing 2011 film, the highest-grossing film in the Harry Potter franchise and the highest-grossing children's book adaptation. Part 2 set a worldwide opening-weekend record with $483.2 million. It set a worldwide IMAX opening-weekend record with $23.2 million. In worldwide earnings, it is the fastest film to reach $400 million (5 days), $500 million (6 days), $600 million (8 days), $700 million (10 days), $800 million (12 days), $900 million (15 days), and $1 billion (19 days, tied with Avatar and Marvel's The Avengers). On 31 July 2011 (its 19th day of release), it became the ninth film in cinematic history and the second in 2011 to surpass the $1-billion mark.
In North America, it is the twenty-fifth highest-grossing film, the highest grossing 2011 film, the highest-grossing Harry Potter film, the highest-grossing children's book adaptation, the highest-grossing fantasy/live action film and the eleventh highest-grossing 3-D film. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold more than 40 million tickets. It set new records in advance ticket sales with $32 million, in its midnight opening with $43.5 million and in its IMAX midnight opening with $2 million. It grossed $91.1 million on its opening Friday, setting a Friday-gross record as well as single- and opening-day records. It also set an opening-weekend record with $169.2 million, an IMAX opening-weekend record of $15.2 million and opening-weekend record for a 3-D film. Although 3-D enhanced the film's earning potential, only 43% of the opening gross came from 3-D venues. This means only $72.8 million of the opening-weekend grosses originated from 3-D showings, the second-largest number at the time.
It also scored the largest 3-day and 4-day gross, the sixth highest-grossing opening week (Friday to Thursday) with $226.2 million, and even the seventh-largest 7-day gross. It fell precipitously by 84% on its second Friday and by 72% during its second weekend overall, grossing $47.4 million, which is the largest second-weekend drop for any film that opened to more than $90 million. Still, it managed to become the fastest-grossing film in the franchise and also achieved the second-largest ten-day gross ever at the time (now eighth). In its third weekend, the movie surpassed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to become the highest-grossing film of the franchise in North America.
Outside North America, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the third highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing 2011 film, the highest-grossing Warner Bros. film and the highest-grossing Harry Potter film. On its opening day, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 grossed $43.6 million from 26 countries, placing it 86% ahead of Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and 49% higher than Half-Blood Prince. From Wednesday until Sunday, on its 5-day opening weekend, it set an opening-weekend record outside North America by earning $314 million. The average 3D share of Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was 60%, which was lower than the 3D share for Transformers: Dark of the Moon (70%) and On Stranger Tides (66%). On its second weekend, it held to the top spot, but fell precipitously by 62% to $120.2 million despite minor competition. This amount is about the same as what On Stranger Tides made from its second weekend ($124.3 million). Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was in first place at the box office outside North America for four consecutive weekends.
In the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta it brought in a record $14.8 million on its first day. On its opening weekend it earned £23,753,171 in the United Kingdom, marking the second largest opening weekend in 2011. Its performance did not surpass that of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004, which eared £23,882,688 on its opening weekend. In United States dollars, its opening weekend was an all-time record $38.3 million, ahead of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($33.5 million). The film also achieved the largest single-day gross on its first Saturday and the largest opening week with $57.6 million. The film made a total of £73.1 million ($117.2 million) at the United Kingdom box office, marking the fifth highest-grossing film. It also is the highest-grossing film of 2011 and highest-grossing Harry Potter film.
Deathly Hallows – Part 2 also set opening-day records in Mexico ($6.1 million), Australia ($7.5 million), France and the Maghreb region ($7.1 million), Italy ($4.6 million), Sweden ($2.1 million), Norway ($1.8 million), Denmark ($1.6 million), the Netherlands ($1.7 million), Belgium ($1.4 million), the Czech Republic ($2.0 million), Argentina ($961,000), Finland ($749,000) and Hong Kong ($808,000). It also established new Harry Potter opening-day records in Japan ($5.7 million), Brazil ($4.4 million), Russia and the CIS ($4.2 million), Spain ($3.3 million) and Poland ($1.25 million).
Deathly Hallows – Part 2 set opening weekend records in India with ₹15 crores ($3.41 million), Australia with $19.6 million, New Zealand with $2.46 million, Brazil with $11. million, Scandinavia with $18.5 million, Mexico with $15.9 million and many other Latin American and European countries.
Deathly Hallows Part II received positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 308 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Thrilling, powerfully acted, and visually dazzling, Deathly Hallows Part II brings the Harry Potter franchise to a satisfying – and suitably magical – conclusion." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating to reviews, the film achieved an average of 87 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". The film received a score of 93 from professional critics at the Broadcast Film Critics Association; it is the organisation's highest-rated Harry Potter film. On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Philip Womack in The Daily Telegraph commented, "This is monumental cinema, awash with gorgeous tones, and carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it." He further expressed that David Yates "transmutes [the book] into a genuinely terrifying spectacle." Another review was released on the same day from Evening Standard, who rated the film 4 out of 5 and stated "Millions of children, parents, and those who should know better won't need reminding what a Horcrux is – and director David Yates does not let them down. In fact, in some ways, he helps make up for the shortcomings of the final book." The Daily Express remarked that the film showcases "a terrifying showdown that easily equals Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in terms of a dramatic and memorable battle between good and evil."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1⁄2 out of 4 stars and said, "The finale conjures up enough awe and solemnity to serve as an appropriate finale and a dramatic contrast to the lighthearted (relative) innocence of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone all those magical years ago." Mark Kermode from the BBC said that the film is a "pretty solid and ambitious adaptation of a very complex book", but he criticised the post-converted 3D. Christy Lemire of the Associated Press gave the film 3 1⁄2 out of 4 stars and said "While Deathly Hallows: Part 2 offers long-promised answers, it also dares to pose some eternal questions, and it'll stay with you after the final chapter has closed." Richard Roeper, also from the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film an A+ rating and said that "this is a masterful and worthy final chapter in one of the best franchises ever put to film."
In one of the few negative reviews, Brian Gibson of Vue Weekly described the film as "deadly dull" and a "visual overstatement". Other reviews criticised the decision to split the novel into two cinematic parts, with Ben Mortimer of The Daily Telegraph writing "Deathly Hallows – Part 2 isn't a film. It's HALF a film ... it's going to feel somewhat emotionless." Other critics wrote of the film's runtime; Alonso Duralde from The Wrap said, "If there's one substantial flaw to the film, it's that this cavalcade of people and places and objects can barely fit in the 130-minute running time." Rebecca Gillie from The Oxford Student gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and wrote, "at the end of [the film] there is nothing that stays with you once you've left the cinema."
The film garnered a number of accolades and nominations. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects at the 84th Academy Awards. At the 65th BAFTA awards, the film won the Best Visual Effects award, and was nominated in the Best Sound, Best Production Design and Best Make-up and Hair categories.
The film was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2012. It won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture. The film scored 10 nominations at the annual Saturn Awards, Winning for Best Fantasy Film. In the 2011 Scream Awards, the film received a total of 14 nominations, and won in the Best Scream-Play, Best Fantasy Actor (Daniel Radcliffe), Best Villain (Ralph Fiennes), Best F/X, and Holy Sh*t scene of the Year categories.