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Potter’s pot o’ gold

'Prisoner' bow becomes Blighty's biggest

The Hogwarts kids are back– and the young wizards are weaving their usual magic.

In its world preem, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” conjured up £5.03 million ($9.2 million) from 535 locations in the U.K. on Monday, which was a national holiday.

That’s the market’s biggest opening day and its biggest single day, 16% ahead of prior champ “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” which pulled in $8 million on 524 sites on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002.

Warner estimated the pic’s Tuesday gross at $6.4 million, which would be the territory’s 5th highest day in history.

Ecstatic Warner execs see that as a terrific omen as they prepare to launch the pic in 47 markets this weekend and the next, on 10,000 prints.

“We have huge expectations,” said Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, prexy of international theatrical distribution.

She declined to reveal her targets, but the studio will be hoping the third Hogwarts saga starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint will have enough momentum to j+oin its predecessors in the rarefied atmosphere of $600 million-plus internationally.

The first, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” grossed $656 million abroad, and “Chamber of Secrets” minted $615 million.

“Prisoner of Azkaban” has been slapped with higher age classifications than previous installments in Germany, where it merits an age 12 rating instead of 6. Pic also received a new age 9 tag in Holland, which also was 6.

Warner execs aren’t concerned as they think the pic’s darker tone will enhance its appeal to older auds.

The studio is estimated to have shelled out close to $80 million on the overseas P&A campaign for “Chamber of Secrets.” International marketing prexy Sue Kroll wouldn’t confirm numbers but acknowledged the distrib is spending a “comparable amount” on “Azkaban.”

She said more TV spots this time are targeting adults and teens, and an adult-skewing trailer has been playing with “Troy” and “Van Helsing.”

Warners is mounting a bigger outdoor campaign, reflecting the summer launch as opposed to the last two films’ winter dates.

Director Alfonso Cuaron, the producers and key cast attended the London preem Sunday, and Cuaron was on hand for the Rome launch Monday.

He’s traveling to promote the pic in his native Mexico. Later this month there will be a junket in Japan, where the film debuts June 26.

Among the other markets where the fantasy isn’t going out day-and-date are Oz (June 10), Spain (June 18) and South Korea (July 16).

Warners is awaiting a release date in China, where several Hollywood films have been bumped due to a seven-week blackout on imported product which starts June 19 (Daily Variety May 20).

Some U.S. execs believe Beijing imposed that no-go area due to the American mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, while others believe it’s in retaliation to recent remarks by U.S. officials concerning Taiwan.

The studio is hoping for an August slot, presumably after the bows of “Spider-Man 2” (Aug. 5) and “Shrek 2” (Aug. 12).

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