Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is off to a dazzling start in North America with a remarkable $22.2 million on 3,003 theaters from Tuesday midnight showings. The figure nearly doubled the $12 million midnight debut from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. More importantly, the Warner Bros. film broke the overall midnight record of $18.5 million set by The Dark Knight, which opened around the same time last year. The Batman Begins sequel went on to post the largest opening day ever at $67.2 million.
Order of the Phoenix also opened on a Wednesday in 2007 and claimed $44.2 million for its opening day. That record held for nearly two years until Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen topped it three weeks ago with a mind-boggling $62 million. If Half-Blood Prince follows the same pattern as the Transformers sequel and Order of the Phoenix, then it’s staring down an opening day north of $80 million, but that number is probably too high given the huge up front demand. The midnight showings will likely represent about a third of the Wednesday gross, which is a very similar composition as another highly anticipated sequel, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. That would yield a tally of around $67 million, which is incredibly close to taking down The Dark Knight‘s record and more than enough to retake the Wednesday crown from Tranformers 2.
Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that this sixth Harry Potter film did this without a massive IMAX release because of a contract with Michael Bay and Paramount to keep Transformers 2 exclusive to the large screen format for five weeks. IMAX sometimes charges more than a $5 premium per ticket. Potter fans will still get to see their favorite wizard in IMAX starting July 29.
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