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‘Phoenix’ soars in France

Best ever Warner opening in territory

PARIS — “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” enjoyed a phenomenal opening day on 950 screens in France.

First-day takings of nearly $5.9 million make it Warner’s best ever launch in Gaul. Bad weather across much of the country may have helped drive auds into theaters.

The fifth installment of the boy wizard’s adventures represents the third biggest opening day ever in France in terms of ticket sales, after “Spider-Man 3,” which bowed on the May 1 national holiday this year, and “Taxi 2” in March 2000.

The stats are all the more remarkable given that the July 11 opening was on a normal working Wednesday, and that WB had held no pre-release screenings. Warner Bros. also avoided previews for the laffer sequel “Les Bronzes 3: Friends Forever,” which grossed nearly $81 million, making it last year’s box office number one in France.

“Without previews, you’re not playing with numbers,” said Warner Bros. France president of distribution Francis Boespflug.

“It’s more fun, and you don’t need it with a ‘Harry Potter’ or a ‘Les Bronzes’.”

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