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Sunday, July 19, 2009

'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' posts $160m five-day bow, biggest worldwide debut in history, July 17-19, 2009

Harry Potter mania shows no signs of abating as Warner's flagship franchise continued its incredible run at the box office, with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince posting the biggest worldwide opening of all-time. Since Wednesday, the sixth film in the Potter saga has amassed a jaw-dropping $396.6 million.

In North America the two-and-a-half hour fantasy pic ranked in $159.7 million over five days, including a record $22.2 million on Wednesday midnight screenings alone. Half-Blood Prince took in $79.5 million from Friday to Sunday, besting its immediate predecessor Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which grossed $77.1 million over its first weekend and $139.7 million over its Wednesday-Sunday frame. The biggest three-day weekend opening in the franchise still belongs to the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which took in $102.6 million in November 2005.

After pushing back the release date for this sixth film from November 2008 until now, Warner Bros.'s high stakes gamble paid off, as the studio's final caretaker for the remaining three films David Yates (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince along with the final two films encompassing the seventh book) has delivered both a critical and financial hit. Critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film an impressive 84%.

Thanks to that record $22.2 million midnight haul Prince finished with a Wednesday take of $52.8 million. Numbers fell off significantly for the rest of the weekend, falling well-short of the $201 million five-day take of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But if international totals remain as strong as they were for Order of the Phoenix, where nearly 70% of all ticket sales came from overseas, Prince should wind up out-pacing Transformers 2 globally when all is said and done. Phoenix amassed a whopping $938 million worldwide despite making "only" $292 million domestic. Among international markets, the United Kingdom posted by far the biggest debut, as Potter-mania produced a $32.4 million bow.

Despite Harry Potter dwarfing all other films this weekend, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs slipped just 36% to $17.7 million, bringing its 19-day cume to $152 million. The film is on pace to match or beat its predecessor Ice Age: The Meltdown, which took in $195.3 million domestic back in 2006.

Falling 43% to third was Paramount/DreamWorks' blockbuster Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which took in $13.8 million this weekend. In four weeks the $200 million budgeted robot actioner has grossed $363.9 million, moving past Jurassic Park's $357 million for #13 on the all-time list. At its current pace the film looks likely to break $400 million by the end of its domestic run.

The most interesting number from the weekend but perhaps the least surprising was the disastrous sophomore frame from Sacha Baron Cohen's latest mockumentary Bruno, which tumbled 73% to $8.4 million, falling from first to fourth. His latest shock comedy proves there is a fine line between pushing the boundaries of laughter and making it feel to audiences like the joke's on them. Apparently he crossed that line. Still, the low-budget Universal comedy has grossed $49.6 million in ten days, and should have no problem breaking $60 million domestic.

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