Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince: Quick Race to Box-Office Records

July 20, 2009–Warner's “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” made close to $400 million in its worldwide debut, scoring the biggest overseas opening of all time at $237 million and $159.7 million domestically.


Total figure of $396.7 million is the strongest start ever for a “Harry Potter” film,  and one of the top performers of all time.  Fans who have grown up with the franchise are loyal, even as they mature into adulthood.  Exit polls showed that people over age 18 comprised 60% of the audience, a greater percentage than was noted for the five previous titles in the series.


The “Potter” franchise has been praised for staying true to J.K. Rowling's book series, dictated by Rowling's wish and enacted by Warners prexy-chief operating office Alan Horn from the start.


The $159.7 million domestic five-day on “Half Blood Prince” improved on the $139.7 million “Order of the Phoenix” took in its five-day opening two years ago.   Warner president of distribution Dan Fellman said he expected “Half-Blood Prince” to cross the $200 million mark domestically by Wednesday morning.


“Half-Blood Prince” opened last Wednesday, posting a record-breaking $22.2 million in midnight runs on the way to grossing $80.2 million through Thursday. For the weekend, it grossed $79.5 million.


As with the domestic aud, Warners prexy of international distribution Veronika Kwan-Rubinek said the core demo is aging as the characters in the films mature.   “It's really a testament to the global appeal of J.K. Rowling,” Kwan-Rubinek said.


“Half-Blood Prince” also marked the biggest international opener of all time for Imax, which opened the film in 62 locations. Grosses clocked in at $3.6 million.


Film's foreign opening bested titan franchises “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Spider-Man” and “Star Wars.” It also came in well ahead of “Order of the Phoenix,” which opened to $193 million.


The U.K. led, of course, with $32.4 million, the second biggest opening of all time in Blighty after “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Pic also scored the second-best opening ever in Australia ($14.4 million) and Brazil ($8 million). After the U.K., top-grossing markets were Germany ($23 million), France ($20.2 million), Japan ($18.2 million), Italy ($13.2 million) and Spain ($10 million).


“Half-Blood Prince” cost $235 million to produce. Film was directed by David Yates, who is helming the two final “Potter” pics as well.