Wizard saga expected to go out with a bang

From 3D to a series-high screen count, Warner Bros. has spared no expense in making “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” the franchise’s biggest installment yet — and audiences around the world are responding.

The question is: How much does a global response like that mean at the box office?

As of Thursday afternoon, “Part 2” had amassed north of $90 million worldwide, with opening day tallies overseas at $43.6 million — bigger than any other “Potter” pic — added to domestic advanced ticket sales approaching $50 million, of which about half is reported to come from 3,800 midnight screenings. Pic kicks off a massive worldwide rollout this weekend in every major overseas market except China, as well as today’s Stateside launch at 4,375 playdates, including more than 3,000 3D runs — an industry high.

Playing second fiddle to “Potter,” Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” bows at 2,405 locations. The Mouse expects “Pooh” to open between $6 million and $8 million, with counterprogramming support from tykes too young for “Potter.”

For “Part 2,” the sum of its parts points to a massive weekend haul, likely to surpass the first “Deathly Hallows” installment’s $330.1 million global debut last November. “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” cumed $934 million globally, while “Order of the Phoenix” is the top grosser of the series with $939 million.

Domestically, “Part 2” certainly is primed to see the biggest midnight gross ever, previously set by last year’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” with $30 million. The “Potter” pic could also potentially outstrip “New Moon’s” $72 million opening-day record and the three-day weekend benchmark of $158 million set by “The Dark Knight” in 2008.

Whether “Part 2” will continue to break records will depend on several factors, including 3D and the film’s Friday-to-Saturday drop.

As the first “Potter” pic to use 3D, Stateside fans in particular may not feel the need to see “Part 2” in 3D. Last weekend, Paramount’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” gave some hope for Warner execs — that pic earned 60% of its opening in 3D.

Overseas, “Part 2” is doing solidly with the format, with a share so far at 65%.

Australia reps the pic’s biggest debut take so far with $7.5 million, followed by France, which saw its best-ever Wednesday bow with $7.1 million. Germany contributed $5.3 million for “Part 2,” while Italy and Russia came in with $4.6 million and $4.1 million, respectively.

Comparing similar territories on opening day, “Part 2” beat “Part 1” by 82% and was 49% higher than the sixth “Potter” pic, “Half-Blood Prince.” Not only that, “Part 2” also became the biggest opening day ever in eight of its debut territories, including Oz, where the film also earned the market’s biggest-ever midnight gross.

Midnight magic should transfer Stateside, with approximately $25 million collected by noon Thursday, according to Warners. (Some exhibs were even planning to run 3 a.m. screenings today.)

“Part 2” also is welcome news for the industry since year-to-date box office totals are running behind last year by 7%.

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