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"Harry Potter" tops North American box office
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The sixth "Harry Potter" movie charmed North American moviegoers, selling an estimated $159.7 million worth of tickets during its first five days of release, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said on Sunday.
The tally for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" ranks as the sixth-biggest five-day opening. But while it crushed its rivals at the box office, the wizard fantasy failed to match the performance of the year's biggest movie, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," which earned $201 million during its first five days last month.
It outpaced its predecessor, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," whose five-day tally came in at $139.7 million two years ago. That picture ended with $938 million worldwide, making it the seventh-biggest movie of all time before accounting for inflation.
The film opened worldwide on Wednesday, not a moment too soon for fans of the boy wizard and his pals. It was originally scheduled to open in November, but the Time Warner Inc-owned studio decided to delay it until summer, devastating Potterphiles around the globe. International sales data were not immediately available.
The action revolves around secret plots involving Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his nemesis Draco (Tom Felton), as the visually stunning film takes viewers deeper into the dark side. There are also budding romances among the young stars. It marks the second consecutive Harry Potter film directed by David Yates, working from an adaptation by series regular Steve Kloves.
BAD BUZZ FOR 'BRUNO'
Two films are left in the franchise, whose first five films have generated $4.5 billion worldwide since 2001. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," also with Yates at the helm, will be rolled out in two parts in 2010 and 2011.
For the traditional three-day weekend, Friday through Sunday, the new "Harry Potter" film earned $79.5 million, not far ahead of the $77.1 million haul for "Order of the Phoenix." Comparisons with the other movies in the franchise are difficult because those opened on Friday, while the latter two opened on Wednesday.
Last weekend's champion, Universal Pictures' "Bruno," tumbled to No. 4 with $8.4 million, losing a hefty 73 percent of its opening-weekend audience. Movies generally hope for a 50 percent fall in their second weekend. The 10-day haul for British satirist Sacha Baron Cohen's risque look at gay culture stands at a modest $49.6 million.
20th Century Fox's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" was steady at No. 2 with $17.7 million. The total for the cartoon rose to $152 million.
Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" held at No. 3 with $13.8 million, taking its total to $363.9 million.
Two movies tied at No. 5, with Warner Bros.' "The Hangover" and Touchstone Pictures' "The Proposal" each reporting about $8.3 million. Their respective totals stand at $235.9 million and $128.1 million.
Universal is a unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal. Fox is a unit of News Corp. Paramount Pictures is a unit of Viacom Inc. Touchstone is a unit of Walt Disney Co.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman)