''Potter'' easily takes No. 1 | EW.com

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''Potter'' easily takes No. 1

''Order of the Phoenix'' burns bright as Harry works his magic with moviegoers

Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, ...

(Murray Close)

As Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’s mid-week opening numbers indicated, neither magic nor sorcery was required for the film to dominate the box office over the weekend and finish at No. 1. The HP franchise’s fifth installment conjured a hefty $77.4 mil from Friday to Sunday, which, when added to the $62.6 mil that the movie brewed up on Wednesday and Thursday, brought its five-day premiere to $140 mil.

But there were many more impressive stats in the movie’s bag of tricks. HpatOotP passed $100 mil in a mere four days. It scored the summer’s fourth-best three-day bow, after Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 mil), Shrek the Third ($121.6 mil), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($114.7 mil). It earned a very nice A- CinemaScore review from an audience that was almost evenly split between women and men, and older folks and wee ones. It averaged a tremendous $80,512 on 91 IMAX screens, where it made $7.3 mil. And it banked a huge $190.3 mil in 61 overseas markets for a gigantic $330 mil worldwide total over the five-day span. Now that really is amazing! (And it conveniently overshadows the one caveat here: that HpatOotP had, in fact, the weakest three-day debut among all HP flicks, about $11 mil behind Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Then again, to be fair, this is the first one to have opened on a Wednesday.)

Thus, as we often see, when one movie performs so strongly, many of the other features in release follow suit. To wit, no film in the top 10 dropped more than 49 percent. Transformers (No. 2) held strong with a solid $36 mil take, bringing its two-week total to $223 mil (it’s the fifth release of 2007 to top the bicentennial mark). On their third weekends, the terrible twosome of Ratatouille (No. 3 with $18 mil) and Live Free or Die Hard (No. 4 with $10.9 mil) declined just 38 percent and 39 percent, respectively. The Bruce Willis action saga also upped its cumulative gross to $102.9 mil and became the year’s 14th $100 mil earner. And despite underperforming last time around in its debut, License to Wed (No. 5) hung on surprisingly well, dropping a mere 29 percent to make $7.4 mil.

Moving down the chart, 1408 (No. 6 with $5 mil), Evan Almighty (No. 7 with $5 mil), Knocked Up (No. 8 with $3.7 mil), Sicko (No. 9 with $2.7 mil), and Ocean’s Thirteen (No. 10 with $1.9 mil) rounded out the top 10. The weekend’s other wide opener, the horror flick Captivity, died a horrible death at No. 12 with a bone-chilling $1.5 mil gross. But some smaller releases held their own: The French import My Best Friend a gagné a $15,500 average in three theaters, and Don Cheadle’s acclaimed biopic Talk to Me averaged $11,841 in 33 locations.

All together, these strong performers combined for a super-strong weekend that was up 13 percent over the same frame a year ago. And, as of right now, the summer of 2007 has seen $2.6 billion in domestic box office receipts — a slight bit better than the $2.5 billion that the previous best summer on record, 2004, earned at this point. Will the record hold? I’m sorry kids, but as it goes with finding out dear Harry’s fate in The Deathly Hallows, we’ll just have wait and see. bb