'Phoenix' strikes $12 million at midnight

The latenight shows for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” brought in a record-breaking $12 million, the most for a Wednesday opening midnight run in Hollywood’s history.

Previous record-holder was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which rang up about $8 million in midnight ticket sales in 2003.

As of 12:01 a.m., exhibs across the country were free to begin playing the fifth installment in the lucrative Warner Bros. film franchise, based on J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster book series.

According to preliminary exit polls, pic was playing to all four quadrants, with a 52/48 male-female split.

In terms of the full day, the record for the biggest Wednesday opening is held by “Spider-Man 2,” which made $40.4 million in 2004. Warner Bros. has a shot at nearing that record with “Phoenix,” which bowed on a monstrous 4,285 screens domestically.

The midnight take for the previous film in the franchise, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” was $6 million, and that was on a Friday. Opening day take for “Goblet,” released in November 2005, was $40.1 million.

Overseas, opening day numbers for “Phoenix” in eight Pacific and Asian countries, including Australia and South Korea, also had a magical effect on Warner execs.

International cume was $13.7 million, including estimates for opening day in France, where “Phoenix” made $5.9 million, the third-highest industry opening of all-time.

Pic’s estimated cume in Pacific and Asian markets was $7.8 million. It was the biggest opening for any of the Potter pics in Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Malaysia.

“Phoenix” made an impressive $3 million in Australia, the fifth-highest industry opening ever.

In South Korea, “Phoenix” made $1.5 million, or 59% higher than the opening number for “Goblet” in November 2005.

Figures for Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil will be available today.

“Phoenix” reps the widest domestic and international opening in Warners’ history.

David Yates directed “Phoenix.”

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