Warners bowing pic in record 3,672 theaters

HOLLYWOOD — Rewrite the record books: Warner Bros. will bow its “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in a humongous 3,672 theaters domestically.

That compares with a then-record 3,653-theater opening for Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2″ last May 16.

“After we screened the film for exhibition, the demand was overwhelming,” Warners distribution topper Dan Fellman said. “And because of the popularity of the film, there is no other film opening up this weekend. That enables us to saturate the marketplace.”

Book hook

Anticipation for the film builds on the huge popularity of the “Harry Potter” book series, which has sold more than 117 million books worldwide in some 47 languages. But the scope of the “Potter” phenom in Hollywood becomes even more apparent when one considers pic will play on a mind-bending 8,200-plus screens, according to unofficial estimates.

An unprecedented portion of “Harry Potter” theaters will show the family adventure on two or more screens. The resulting “Potter” print run is so massive, it surpasses previous high-water marks set by “M:I2″ and a few other pics just last summer by upward of 20%.

Early arrivals

Reflecting the broad exhib enthusiasm for the pic — which is expected to deliver not only a smash bow but likely a new Warners movie franchise — several General Cinema venues have announced 12:01 a.m. Friday showtimes for the much-anticipated family adventure.

“The anxiously awaited film … is expected to be one of the most successful films of the year,” Seattle’s GC-managed Cinerama Theater proclaimed in a news release. “General Cinema added the ‘midnight plus one’ showtimes due to overwhelming moviegoer enthusiasm and demand.”

Advance-ticketing services have reported unprecedented levels of consumer interest in “Harry Potter.”

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