Global theaters flooded by fans for 6th installment

Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is more magical than ever, waving its wand to score the biggest international opening of all time with $236 million.

“Half-Blood Prince” debuted in 15,800 playdates in 54 markets over the July 15-19 frame.

From Japan to Italy to Brazil, the refrain was the same: theaters packed to the rafters with adoring fans.

J.K. Rowling’s books, on which the movies are based, have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 67 languages.

Film’s international opening was led by the U.K., Rowling’s homeland. Box office receipts from 1,305 playdates came in at $32.1 million, the second highest opening of all time after “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

And it opened 20% ahead of the last installment, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” This trend was repeated around the globe.

In Germany, film likewise came in 20% higher than “Order of the Phoenix,” grossing $23.6 million from 1,300 screens. Rain and overcast skies throughout much of Germany certainly didn’t hurt the pic’s prospects, which were already high in view of the country’s huge “Harry Potter” fanbase.

Germany’s overall box office skyrocketed more than 61% over the previous weekend, due mostly to the boy wizard’s box office appeal. And with no local competition to speak of, Hollywood tentpoles dominated the German B.O.

France was much the same story, as “Half-Blood Prince” grossed $20.2 million on 949 in its first five days.

“Half-Blood Prince” even topped the B.O. in Japan — no easy feat since local fare often dominates. Pic earned $23.5 million in its first six days.

“Potter,” which opened on 860 screens, matched the pace of previous two “Potter” entries. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005) ended its Japan run with $118 million, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007) with $100 million. Distrib Warner is now expecting the pic to pass the $100 million mark.

 The film is playing in 3-D at three Imax theaters in Japan, with the six-day take from these venues alone totaling nearly $300,000. 

Most box office pundits say “Half-Blood Prince” has a shot at hitting the $700 million mark at the international B.O. “Order of the Phoenix” grossed $646.2 million.

 In other box office action, 20th Century Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” proved surprisingly resilient to the “Potter” onslaught. Film grossed $61.9 million over the July 17-19 weekend from 11,089 playdates in 102 markets; foreign cume is $430.9 million in only the pic’s third frame — making it the top foreign grosser of the summer so far.

“Ice Age 3,” helped by the extra cost of a 3-D ticket, has a shot at becoming the top grossing animated title of all time at the international B.O., surpassing Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” ($524 million).

Toon is now the biggest film of all time in Russia and a number of Latin American countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Uruguay. And in Brazil on Tuesday, “Ice Age 3″ managed to outdo “Half-Blood Prince.”

Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” pulled in $14.2 million in its fifth sesh at the foreign B.O. for a foreign cume of $397.2 million. Film, playing in 7,678 runs in 50 markets, placed third for the July 17-19 weekend after “Half-Blood Prince” and “Ice Age 3.”

Sacha Baron Cohen’s mockumentary “Bruno” came in No. 4, grossing $10.6 million from 5,166 runs in 26 markets for a foreign cume of $41.2 million. Universal’s portion was $8.6 million for a foreign cume of $36.4 million (U is distributing in select territories, along with North America). “Bruno’s” worldwide run continues to pace behind Cohen’s “Borat.”

Coming in No. 5 for the weekend was Japan’s 12th installment in the long-running “Pokemon” series. Pic grossed $7.2 million from 366 screens.

David Hayhurst in Paris, Ed Meza in Berlin, Nick Vivarelli in Rome and Mark Schilling in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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