'Charlie' may feel bite from latest 'Potter' book

When Warner Bros. scheduled “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for a July 15 release, perhaps it should have considered an unlikely factor — the literary calendar.

The high-profile Johnny Depp remake will be competing for buzz and kiddie bucks with an historic juggernaut — “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” The sixth installment of the J.K. Rowling series hits bookstores at midnight on July 16, with fans expected to line up that afternoon.

If past perfs are any predictor, Potter — and its U.S. publisher Scholastic — may emerge as the richer of the two. The fifth book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” wrestled “The Hulk” to the ground in June 2003.

That tome sold 5 million copies in its first 24 hours at a suggested retail price of $30. That’s $150 million — vs. Hulk’s $62 million weekend bow for Universal. “Phoenix” went on to sell 11 million copies in its first 12 weeks.

Scholastic has bumped up its initial print run of “Half-Blood” to a staggering 10.8 million copies. With a good portion of its target aud dedicating the weekend to devouring the 672-page book, Charlie may feel the bite from the boy wizard.

Still, Warner’s may have the last laugh. The studio’s got film rights to the Potter series, after all.

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