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Harry Potter breaks Hollywood's midnight ticket sales record [updated]

July 15, 2009 | 10:29 am

Potter 

It still remains to be seen how the box office performs tonight, but given how popular shows were in the afternoon, and late last night, there’s no reason to think muggles won’t keep packing the theaters this evening.

"Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince" conjured up $22.2 million in midnight ticket sales at 3,003 locations, according to Warner Bros., putting the popular boy-wizard movie on track for a record-breaking debut today and through the weekend.

The sixth "Potter" film, which cost more than $400 million to make, market and release worldwide, shattered the $18.5-million-record midnight earnings of last year's Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," also produced and distributed by Warner Bros.

"Half-Blood Prince" could very well beat the all-time domestic record for Wednesday ticket sales of $62 million generated last month by Paramount Pictures' "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and could eclipse its five-day Wednesday-through-Sunday record of $200.1 million.

It's also possible that  the latest "Potter" could topple the $203.7-million all-time five-day record set by "Dark Knight," which opened on a Friday.

"Half-Blood Prince," unlike the last two "Potter" films, is rated PG rather than PG-13, meaning it could play to an even broader audience. The first three movies also were rated PG.

The movie is expected to gross more domestically than its predecessor, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which two years ago sold $292 million in tickets. The film grossed more than twice that amount overseas with $646.2 million.

"Half-Blood Prince" will debut this week in all major international territories.

-- Claudia Eller and Ben Fritz

UPDATE 3:57 PM: Update (3:30 PM): “Harry” is on track for the biggest Wednesday and quite possibly the biggest single day of all time at the box office.

According to a person with access to Rentrak, a service that tracks ticket sales at thousands of movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada, matinee attendance for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is currently ahead of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” at the same time when it opened on Wednesday, June 24.

“Half-Blood Prince” already had a sizable advantage before the sun rose today, as it earned $22.2 million from midnight screenings, while “Revenge of the Fallen” made $16 million. With the matinees performing better as well, it’s now very likely to earn more than the $62 million that “Revenge of the Fallen” grossed its opening day, the most ever on a Wednesday.

It still remains to be seen how the box office performs tonight, but given how popular shows were in the afternoon, and late last night, there’s no reason to think muggles won’t keep packing the theaters this evening.

Update (5:20 PM): Evening shows aren't selling quite as well, meaning "Harry" may just miss out on surpassing "Transformers."

According to two people who have followed box office returns all day, ticket sales for night time shows on the east coast are a bit slower than matinees. As a result, both predicted that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will gross $57 million or $58 million for the day. It now has only a small chance, they said, of breaking the $62 million "Revenge of the Fallen" record.

Update (10:25 AM Thursday): "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" earned $58.4 million on its opening day. Details are here.

RELATED:

Photos: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" opens in L.A.

Review: Kenneth Turan on "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

Read more "Harry Potter" coverage on Hero Complex 

Photo:  Courtney Ortiz , 18, dressed as Dumbledore, and her other Long Beach friends cavort outside a theater at Universal CityWalk before the late-night opening of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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