Potter Makes First-Day Magic

Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix took in approximately $44.7 million on Wednesday, breaking the previous Wednesday opening record of $40.4 million set by Sony’s Spider-Man 2 in 2004. A lot of Potter fans found themselves turned away as many first-day screenings at conventional theaters and IMAX locations were already sold out due to stellar advance ticket sales through such outlets as Fandango.com and Movietickets.com.

Early midnight screenings of the latest Potter adventure brought in $12 million from 2,311 theaters, surpassing the $8 million made by New Line’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King during Wednesday midnight screenings. The witching-hour record is still held by 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which packed in night owls to the tune of $16.5 million on a Tuesday.

The fifth installment in the Potter franchise also got off to a good start overseas, where it opened in several territories and pulled in an estimated $13.7 million on its first day out. In France alone, the pic made $5.9 million from 950 screens, making it Warner Bros.’ best opener in the country to date.

Based on the fifth book in author J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is directed by David Yates (The Girl in the Caf’) and features visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic, Framestore CFC, Double Negative, Rising Sun Pictures, The Moving Picture Company, Baseblack, Machine and Cinesite.