"Harry Potter" whips up early magic at box offices
By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Even before its U.S. debut, the new "Harry Potter" movie is conjuring a lot of magic at box offices, taking in $43.6 million overseas on its opening day and sending advance U.S. ticket sales to record levels.
Warner Bros., the film studio behind the new "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," on Thursday said the movie's debut in 26 countries one day earlier was 87 percent higher than its predecessor film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" and 49 percent above 2009's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."
Of the total international box office, about 65 percent was coming from 3D screens, which should help support the market for 3D movies which has seen some weakness this year. Highlights included the biggest opening days ever for movies in countries from Australia to Russia and Italy.
In the United States, the world's largest movie market, "Deathly Hallows - Part 2" debuts in midnight screenings Thursday and is breaking records for advance ticket sales.
Online ticket seller Fandango.com said more than 6,000 midnight shows are sold out on the website, and it has sold more tickets for midnight and early morning screenings of "Deathly Hallows - Part 2" than any other movie, including "The Dark Knight" and "Twilight" series film, "New Moon".
Another online ticket seller, MovieTickets.com, said it had sold out 4,500 screenings and the movie appears to be headed toward becoming one of the top 2 advance sellers of all time.
The early returns bode well for the final movie in the smash hit series of films that, in its previous seven incarnations, has taken in more than $6.4 billion at global box offices for Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc..
Estimates for opening weekend ticket sales of "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" in the United States and Canada range from $125 million to $150 million, industry watchers said, putting it in league with the highest-grossing film debuts ever.
The record for best weekend opening belongs to 2008 Batman movie, "The Dark Knight," which collected $158.4 million in its initial three-days.
(Editing by Christine Kearney)
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