Italians get hotter for ‘Potter’

'Order of the Phoenix' breaks local record

ROME — “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” has broken the Italian record for a Wednesday opening, pulling in $3 million on 837 prints and boding well for Warner Bros., which took a risk by including Italy in the summer release.

Local exhibs are hailing the boffo bow as a turning point in the country’s summer release patterns.

Hollywood frequently shuns summer releases here because Italians usually desert cinemas and hit the beaches.

Italy is thus out of synch with other key European territories on many U.S. titles, which are released day-and-date. The backup causes a pileup the rest of the year.

But that is changing.

“Spider-Man 3” made $4 million on 900 screens on its first day in Italy on May 1, a holiday here and one day after its U.S. bow.

Italo admissions since June are up 24% vs. the same period last year, according to Paolo Protti, head of Italian exhibitors org Anec.

Protti thanked Warner Bros. Italy topper Paolo Ferrari and other Hollywood distribs “who have believed in an Italian summer season,” he said. “I hope Italian distributors will follow suit next year.”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Transformers” are among other tentpoles released in Italy day-and-date with satisfactory results.

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