'Harry Potter' Casts A Spell With Record-Breaking Debut

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (July 12, 2007) — “Potter Mania” is back with a vengeance.“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” has broken box office records with the biggest Wednesday opening of all time.The fifth installment of the “Potter” film series took in a magical $44.2 million domestically.

“Phoenix” bests the previous Wednesday record-holder, “Spider-Man 2,” by nearly $4 million.

The impressive take was bolstered by the $12 million made from Midnight screenings the night before (which, technically, took place on Wednesday).Midnight showings of the film in the IMAX format also broke records by over 10%, contributing an impressive $453,000 on 91 screens.While reviews of “Phoenix” have been decidedly mixed, there’s no question that the franchise is still firing on all cylinders.

The timing of the film’s release couldn’t be better, as fan anticipation is at a fever pitch with the seventh (and final) “Potter” book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” hitting shelves on July 21st.“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, along with the usual “Potter” stable of actors (including Potter pals Emma Watson and Rupert Grint). Acclaimed British actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Imelda Staunton join the cast as evil adversaries, in what is thematically the darkest film of the franchise so far.That “darkness” may play a role in the Potter phenomenon, as fans have grown up with the books and movies along with the characters. What was originally conceived as a children’s tale has gone on to explore themes of good vs. evil, sexuality, and teen identity — further strengthening fans’ emotional investment in the characters and their stories.“On an emotional level it’s a lot deeper, I think,” Radcliffe told Access Hollywood. “As the books get darker, so do the films have to.”

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