Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has set a new box office record for midnight showings.

UPDATED: The 'Harry Potter 6' Rush

on July 15, 2009 by Phil Contrino
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Wednesday Morning Update (11:18 a.m. PT): : According to Warner Bros., Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince made $22.2 million from midnight and early morning showings.

Wednesday Morning Update (8:24 a.m. PT): Based on early estimates, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has reportedly made a staggering $20 million from midnight and early morning showings. That tops the $18 million midnight haul of The Dark Knight, the previous record holder for midnight grosses.

Wednesday Morning Update (7:33 a.m. PT): Fandango.com is reporting that 3,000 midnight and early morning showings of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were sold out. The wizard flick passed Twilight and The Dark Knight in order to become the ticketing site's #2 advance seller. The #1 spot still belongs to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Tuesday Afternoon Update (12:52 p.m. PT): With thousands of midnight shows already sold out, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is poised to have a very big opening day. The sixth installment in the series could bring in around $57 million on Wednesday, putting it slightly behind the highest Wednesday opening of all time: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen with $62 million.

Tuesday Morning Update (11:43 a.m. PT): Fandango.com is now reporting more than 2,500 sold-out shows, and the ticketing site is currently selling an average of eight HP6 tickets per second. The wizard flick is currently outpacing Twilight in Fandango’s advance ticket sales, and by day’s end, it may even end up outpacing The Dark Knight, according to an official statement.

Tuesday Morning Update (11:36 a.m. PT): MovieTickets.com is now reporting 2,000 sold-out performances for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, including almost 1,500 midnight sellouts in the U.S. alone. The film is outselling all of the Harry Potter films at the same point in the sales cycle, with the exception of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Monday Afternoon Update (1:16 p.m. PT): MovieTickets.com is currently reporting 1,300 sold-out showings of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince worldwide, including 950 midnight sellouts in the U.S. alone. Half-Blood Prince is currently outpacing seven of the top 10 all-time ticket sellers. The Warner Bros. release still trails Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Monday Morning Update (7:48 a.m. PT): As of 7:30 a.m. PT, Fandango.com is reporting more than 1,000 sold-out shows for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The film is on pace to match The Dark Knight in advance tickets sales and it should replace Twilight as the company's third top-selling advance ticketer. Half-Blood Prince is currently responsible for 96% of daily ticket sales on Fandango.com.

Thursday Morning Update (7:57 a.m. PT): As of 7 a.m. PT, Fandango.com is reporting a considerable amount of online interest in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Nearly 500 showtimes are already sold out, and the film currently represents 65% of sales on the site.

Half-Blood Prince is the fastest-selling title of the year for Fandango.com, and it's also selling twice the amount of tickets as the last Harry Potter film at the same point in the sales cycle.

Wednesday Afternoon Update (1:36 p.m. PT): As of 1:30 p.m. PT, MovieTickets.com is reporting 350 sold-out performances worldwide for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, including 216 sold-out midnight showings in the U.S. alone. The sixth installment in the popular wizard franchise is currently responsible for 61% of sales on the ticketing site.

Tuesday Afternoon Update (4:42 p.m. PT): Fandango.com is reporting that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has already sold out 300 showings. Additionally, as of 4 p.m. PT the sixth installment in the popular series is responsible for 60% of sales on the ticketing site.

Tuesday Morning Update (6:39 a.m. PT): Fandango.com is reporting that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is now responsible for 61% of daily sales. The Warner Bros. release is outpacing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the same point in the sales cycle.

According to an ongoing Fandango survey of more than 3,000 moviegoers planning to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince :

85% of respondents have read all seven of the Potter books.
84% would be interested in visiting Potter locations from the new film.
80% would buy a ticket to a Daniel Radcliffe movie in which he doesn’t play Harry Potter.
73% are fine with the fact that the last Potter story will be split into two separate movies.
38% say that Half-Blood Prince ’s positive advance reviews and Internet buzz are the main factor driving them to buy tickets in advance.

Monday Afternoon Update (3:34 p.m. PT): As of 3:33 p.m. PT, Fandango.com is reporting that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is responsible for 51% of daily sales.

Thursday Afternoon Update (3:09 p.m. PT): Fandango.com is reporting that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is selling twice as many tickets as 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the same point in the sales cycle.

Wednesday Afternoon Update (5:01 p.m. PT): The same moviegoers who are currently following the adventures of a bunch of fighting robots will soon be checking in with their favorite boy wizard.

Two weeks from now, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will try to edge past Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as the most successful film of the summer. That will be no small task considering that Revenge of the Fallen has only been a step or two behind The Dark Knight since opening on June 24.

The Harry Potter movies are growing progressively darker as the saga moves closer to its conclusion, which will be spread out over two films to be released in November 2010 and July 2011.

Yet the darker tone may be helping to expand the Potter following rather than shrinking it. Despite being slapped with the first PG-13 rating of the series, 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grabbed $292 million domestically, which, without adjusting for inflation, was the highest tally since the first adaptation, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. When adjusting for inflation, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the second-highest grossing film of the series behind Sorcerer's Stone.

"We're seeing Harry Potter show strength with the under-25 crowd, both males and females," says John Singh, spokesperson for Flixster, an online movie community with 20 million unique users per month. "But just as the movies are growing up, we're also seeing that the over-25 audience is definitely becoming engaged. So the movies are probably attracting a slightly older audience as the characters grow older and they get a little darker and more serious."

Early online sales for Half-Blood Prince are quite promising in the face of Transformers 2, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Public Enemies. MovieTickets.com is reporting that Half-Blood Prince is currently outpacing four of the five previous Potter films at the same point in the sales cycle. The sequel it isn't beating is Goblet of Fire. According to Fandango, as of 12 p.m. PT on Wednesday Half-Blood Prince was responsible for 22% of daily sales, which is an impressive number that is bound to increase significantly as the release date nears.

The long-term prospects for Half-Blood Prince also look promising. July is filled with releases aimed mainly at adult audiences such as The Ugly Truth and Funny People. Truth and Disney's G-Force open the weekend after Potter 6, and G-Force won't hit nearly as many demographics as the boy wizard will. Not until G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra opens on August 7 will Half-Blood Prince face a threat for the attention of teenage moviegoers.

It's a safe bet that the latest installment in the series will spend two weekends on top of the box office before continuing to do well during what it shaping up to be a traditionally lackluster month of August. Watch out, Optimus Prime.

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