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Final 'Harry Potter' film sets record for most tickets sold during midnight screenings [Updated]

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The eighth and final "Harry Potter" film only flew into theaters at midnight, but the movie is already having a magical effect on the box office.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," the last installment in the massively popular film franchise about a boy wizard, opened during the wee hours of the morning and has already sold $43.5 million in tickets, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros.

That's more than any film has ever made during post-midnight screenings, blowing away the previous record held by "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which grossed about $30 million on a Wednesday in June 2010. It's also a far greater sum than any "Harry Potter" film has made from late-night showings: 2009's  "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" had been the most successful of the series in that time frame, collecting $22.2 million from midnight ticket sales. 

The strong early sales for "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" are only a further indication that the film is on track to beat the $158.4-million record for a three-day domestic opening, currently held by 2008's "The Dark Knight." The film is also playing fantastically overseas, where on Thursday morning it had already grossed $43.6 million in 26 foreign countries.

[Update, 11:06 a.m.: The movie grossed another $37.6 million overseas in 43 foreign countries Thursday, bringing its international total to $82.5 million since it opened Wednesday in some overseas markets. Receipts are now 39% higher than after two days in the same country for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1."]

One film that won't be breaking any records this weekend? "Winnie the Pooh," a hand-drawn cartoon attempting to reintroduce the classic tale to modern audiences. Disney spent about $30 million to produce the movie. The PG-rated "Pooh" is the only other new film in wide release daring to go up against "Potter" this weekend. But even if the movie is able to attract young children and their parents, it is only expected to gross under $10 million, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

-- Amy Kaufman

RELATED:

$43.6-million opening day overseas for "Harry Potter" finale

"Harry Potter" may work its magic at box office and break records

Photo: Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe star in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2." Credit: Warner Bros.

 
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