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Romance rocks wizard world in new Potter movie

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Fans in costumes pose as they enter the movie theatre for the world’s first premiere of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in Tokyo July 6, 2009.


Romance rocks wizard world in new Potter movie

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LONDON (Reuters) – Romantic comedy meets the wizarding world in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, the sixth instalment in the hit movie franchise in which hormones, as well as hexes, are on the loose at Hogwarts school.

And with filming on the final two pictures due to wrap up in 2010, the young actors who spent much of their teen years on set and coping with the superstardom their success has brought are finally looking ahead to life after Potter.

“It was nice to be back and to know that this film is, to me, more of a romantic comedy than ever before and that we would have a chance to focus more on that side of things,” said Emma Watson, who plays the feisty bookworm Hermione in the films.

“Sometimes I have to bring myself back with Hermione, because she is so innocent and so naive and she really is very vulnerable in this film,” the 19-year-old actress told reporters on Monday at a press conference to publicise the movie.

“She really does get her heart broken by Ron and Lavender and that whole situation.”

Director David Yates, who also made the fifth movie “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, added: “Our cast are just getting that little bit older now and the hormones are starting to fly and for me it marks a real transition point between our cast as children and our cast as adults.”

In Half-Blood Prince, out in theatres on July 15, Hogwarts is increasingly vulnerable to attack from Lord Voldemort, wizard Potter’s nemesis.

Professor Slughorn, played by Jim Broadbent, joins the cast, and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore places more and more trust in his star pupil Potter, determined to prepare him for his inevitable showdown with Voldemort.

Meanwhile, love blossoms, with Harry drawn to Ginny and Ron attracting the attention of Lavender Brown as a heartbroken Hermione looks on jealously.

The first reviews of the movie have been positive.

Variety magazine described it as “dazzlingly well made and perhaps deliberately less fanciful than the previous entries” while The Hollywood Reporter said “a jerky start of exposition and backstory gives way to vigorous storytelling.”

END IN SIGHT

The films, the first five of which have earned an impressive $4.5 billion at the box office, are based on British author J.K. Rowling’s seven-book Harry Potter series, which has sold an estimated 400 million copies worldwide.

There will be eight films in all, with the final volume, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, divided into two.

“We’re working at the moment on Deathly Hallows, and I think we’re all aware that this great juggernaut is reaching the end of its journey in a way,” said Yates, who is also directing Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two.

“We finish shooting next spring and everybody comes to work … with that knowledge in the back of their mind.”

According to Hollywood studio Warner Bros., the seventh film is scheduled to hit cinemas in November, 2010 and the eighth in the summer of 2011.

“I’d like to continue acting, really, if I can,” said Rupert Grint, who plays Ron.

“It’s kind of all coming to an end now and I suppose you’ve got to start thinking about that kind of thing.”

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry and has starred on the Broadway stage, also plans to go on acting.

“Hopefully just keep acting is the plan. I just want to keep going for as long as I can and I’ve had a fantastic time with Potter. I will be very sad to leave it.”

Watson is going to university in the United States.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to a bit of normality for a while, it would be nice,” she said. “But that by no means means that by going to university I’m never going to act again.”

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Harry Potter Conjures Up $159.7 Million in 5 Days

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Harry Potter Conjures Up $159.7 Million in 5 Days

Harry Potter, The new big-screen adventure “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” took in $79.5 million domestically over opening weekend and $159.7 million since debuting last Wednesday.

That’s the second-highest start ever for a movie premiering on Wednesday, trailing the $200 million five-day opening for last month’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

The sixth movie about the young wizard came in $20 million ahead of the last movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which grossed $139.7 million in its first five days two years ago.

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‘Harry Potter’ opens to $58.4 million

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‘Harry Potter’ opens to $58.4 million

More muggles may have turned out at midnight, but in the end there were more “Transformers” gearheads.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” sold $58.38 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada on its opening day Wednesday, according to Warner Bros. That number blows away the previous biggest opening day in the series based on the books about a young British wizard, $44.2 million for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” in July 2007. According to several executives who closely follow box office, it also sets up the new film for a huge domestic five-day opening of a little less than $200 million by Sunday. It probably will earn about that much or more from international territories, for which opening-day grosses aren’t available yet.

As a result, “Half-Blood Prince,” which cost $250 million to produce and $155 million to market and distribute worldwide, probably will be yet another profitable series entry for Warner.

Opening day for the sixth “Potter” film wasn’t quite big enough to be the biggest Wednesday of all time, however. That record still resides with “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which opened to $62 million on June 24. It initially appeared that “Harry” could take the crown when it earned a record-breaking $22 million from midnight shows Wednesday and was outpacing “Transformers” during matinees.

However, evening shows weren’t quite as packed as those earlier in the day. Apparently after the rabid “Harry Potter” fans came to the first batch of shows late at night and families attended matinees, the more general audience that would have come for opening-day evening shows wasn’t quite as big for “Half-Blood Prince” as for “Transformers.”

As a result, it’s now unlikely, although still possible, that “Half-Blood Prince” will best the $200.1 million that “Transformers” earned in its first five days, or the record $203.8 million earned by “The Dark Knight” in its first five days.

Update (12:20 PM): “Harry” launched in 48 foreign countries on Wednesday and exceeded the opening of its predescessor by an even bigger margin than it did domestically.

“Half-Blood Prince” sold $48.9 million worth of tickets overseas yesterday, 43% more than “Order of the Phoenix” last year in the same countries.

The opening was particularly huge in Holland and Brazil, where “Potter” scored the biggest opening day of all time, as well as the U.K. and Australia, where it was the third biggest ever.

The picture started in every major foreign country moviegoing territory Wednesday except for Argentina, Mexico and Russia, where it debuts today.

Comparing overall international openings between films is difficult, as they often start in different countries at different times. But according to Warner Bros, the worldwide opening day gross for “Half-Blood Prince” of $104 million is the biggest ever, not accounting for ticket price inflation.

Update (2:15 PM): Warner Bros. has made a slight adjustment to the film’s Wednesday domestic gross. The final figure is $58.174 million.

Update (3:05 PM): Opening day overseas wasn’t as big for “Half-Blood Prince” compared to “Order of the Phoenix” as Warner indicated. A studio executive called back to correct the initial figure given to the Times that the new film grossed 43% more than the last one in the same countries. In fact, the advantage was only 11%.

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