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First look: 'Harry Potter' opens to $159.7 million, '500 Days' starts big

July 19, 2009 |  8:51 am


"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"  continued the series' strong performance at the box office but failed to significantly outperform its predecessor, selling $159.7 million worth of tickets on its first five days in the U.S. and Canada, according to Warner Bros.

That's a solid opening given that the movie cost Warners $250 million to produce and another $155 million to market and distribute around the world. It's the third-biggest launch ever for a movie that opened on a Wednesday.

It initially looked like "Half-Blood Prince" would earn much more when it broke the record for midnight debut shows, earning $22.2 million. The picture quickly slowed down from that torrid start, however, settling into a performance that otherwise essentially tracked the $139.7-million five-day opening of 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," plus ticket-price inflation.

The $200.1-million record for a five-day opening on a Wednesday that "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" set when it opened last month, which initially looked vulnerable, ended up very secure.

Continuing the bad buzz that was evident on its opening weekend, "Bruno" plunged 73% on its second weekend to $8.4 million. That's the largest second-weekend decline for any movie this year.

Indie romantic comedy "500 Days of Summer" opened to huge numbers at 27 locations. It earned an estimated $837,500, giving it a big per-theater average of $31,000 and setting it up for a very strong run as Fox Searchlight expands the Sundance darling in coming weeks.

--Ben Fritz

For more on the opening of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," including its international ticket sales, click here.

Photo: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Credit: Warner Bros.