Harry Potter Vs. James Bond: Most Commercial Franchise in History

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will begin its official theatrical run tonight, Wed, July 15, at midnight screenings 12:01 am.  Warner  expects the “Harry Potter” film franchise to become the most commercial series of all time.

The five previous “Harry Potter” pictures have grossed $4.48 billion at the worldwide box office. That still trails the $5 billion grossed by the James Bond film franchise, which began in 1962 and claims 22 films.  However, the figures are not adjusted for inflation.  Even so, Harry Potter, boy wizard, is expected to overtake agent 007 within the month.

In the past, the major part of the franchise's total gross has come from overseas, where J.K. Rowling's phenomenal book series has been translated into 67 languages.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was originally set to open last November, but the studio pushed back the release. The postponement sparked a protest from Potter fans, who are now eager to see the film. Warner felts the July 15 release date for “Half-Blood Prince” gives it ideal positioning.

The main cast returns in “Half-Blood Prince,” while Jim Broadbent joins the franchise in the role of Professor Horace Slughorn.

“Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth installment in the franchise, goes out in approximately 4,300 theaters domestically and thousands more overseas in 64 territories.

On Monday, MovieTickets.com reported 300 sold-out shows for “Half-Blood Prince” at the domestic Box-Office, including more than 950 midnight showings. That figure is stronger than than the presales for this summer's “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”  Online ticketing service Fandango reported that “Half-Blood Prince” is the fastest seller of the year and the biggest of any Potter title.

The previous Harry Potter, “Order of the Phoenix,” released two years ago also in July, grossed $44 million on its first day at the domestic B.O., including $12 million in midnight shows. That film's five-day opening gross was $139.7 million, and eventually made $292 million in the U.S. and $646 million overseas.

“Half-Blood Prince” marks the second Potter picture to be directed by Brit David Yates, who helmed the previous one, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” He's also set to diect the final two films in the franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.”

Because Imax is set to play “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” for at least two more weeks, “Half-Blood Prince” will only open in a handful of Imax theaters, including ones in L.A., New York and Chicago.

Yates shot 15 minutes of the film using Imax cameras, and his footage will be shown in Imax 3-D.