3-day forecast expected to rival 'Dark Knight'

Setting individual house records all across the country, Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ smashed the overall industry benchmark for midnight grosses, tallying a ginormous $43.5 million from more than 3,800 U.S. locations.

“Part 2″ had collected almost $50 million in advanced ticket sales — another record — prior to Thursday night, about half of which were reported to come from midnights.

Internationally, the film tallied in just two days $82.5 million for a global start officially at $126 million (advanced sales aren’t added to the total until tickets are redeemed).

Pic beat the previous midnight record-holder “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” at $30 million.

“What an incredible beginning for the movie that ends it all,” said Warner domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman. “Everyone at Warner Bros. joins me in congratulating the many people behind the ‘Harry Potter’ films. We know this is just the start of what promises to be an astounding weekend and a magical summer.”

Imax also set a new record with “Part 2″ collecting $2 million from (mostly 3D) 274 Imax single-screen runs. According to the exhib, every showtime was sold out (today’s screenings are virtually sold out, as well). The first “Deathly Hallows” installment held the previous midnight record for Imax, with $1.4 million at 238 screens.

“Imax and ‘Harry Potter’ are now a six-picture tradition,” said Imax prexy Greg Foster, “and this is how fans have chosen to experience the ‘Harry Potter’ finale.”

In all, “Part 2″ sold out every 3D domestic midnight screening, according to Warners.

It’s hard to say whether the film can keep that momentum in 3D through Sunday since first responders — fanboy auds — are typically the biggest supporters of the format. 3D likely will play a major role for “Part 2″ this weekend, boosting numbers based on higher ticket prices.

The final “Potter” pic expands today to a series-high domestic location count of 4,375, with expectations for the film’s total three-day tally to rival the current opening weekend benchmark of $158 million set by “The Dark Knight” in 2008.

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