Potter is back: box office big bucks assured

Fri Jul 3, 2009 6:38am EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Boy wizard Harry Potter is back in cinemas later this month with the sixth installment of the movie franchise, and another box office bonanza looks assured for the Warner Bros. studio.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" hits screens on July 15, promising high-speed action, dark and dangerous battles with the forces of evil, budding romance at Hogwarts school for wizards and the expected death of a prominent character.

The wait has been a long one for Potter fans around the world who have followed the fate of Harry and his friends through the seven best-selling books by British author J.K. Rowling.

Warner Bros. pushed the release date of Half-Blood Prince back from 2008, leaving a two-year gap since the fifth movie "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and the final novel "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".

The release of Potter books and films are major events for the entertainment industry, both because of the passion fans share for the stories, dubbed "Pottermania" in the media, and the amount of money they generate.

The seven Harry Potter books, which began in 1997, have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and turned Rowling into a multi-millionaire publishing phenomenon.

MAGIC NUMBERS

The five movies released so far have grossed $4.5 billion in ticket sales, and box office experts see little reason to doubt that the sixth installment will fall within the $800 million to $1 billion range, a huge amount for a single film.   Continued...

 
<p>Cast members Rupert Grint (L-R), Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson attend the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood July 8, 2007. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>