Thursday, July 23, 2009

Harry Potter Has Stellar Weekend Opener

The Harry Potter franchise kept the cauldrons churning with the release of its sixth installment, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which drew $77.8 million on approximately 9,600 screens at 4,325 locations over the weekend. Compared to last year, though, when The Dark Knight blazed into the record books, overall weekend business was down a sharp 38 percent, and attendance was a bit soft versus the more normal weekends of years past, due in part to Harry Potter being the sole new nationwide release.

In its first five days, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" pulled in $158 million, surpassing predecessor "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix's" $139.7 million as the franchise's highest-grossing five-day start and ranking sixth among all movies. The bulk of Half-Blood Prince's lead over Order of the Phoenix came from its $58.2 million opening day, while Thursday through Saturday were slightly ahead and Sunday was a bit behind Order of the Phoenix. Order of the Phoenix's first weekend wasn't far behind at $77.1 million, and it ended its run at $292 million.

Unlike "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's" opening did not include a significant IMAX release, because "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" still occupies those screens. Half-Blood Prince played at only three IMAX venues in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago, which accounted for an estimated $338,000 of the five-day opening. The picture is scheduled for around 165 IMAX venues on July 29.

On the foreign front, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" delivered the highest-grossing foreign opening ever with $236 million from 54 territories. The previous benchmark was "Spider-Man 3" with $230.5 million, while "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" began with $193 million from 44 territories. Add in the domestic gross, and Half-Blood Prince's five-day worldwide opening was $394 million, again topping "Spider-Man 3," which came in at $381.7 million.

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