New Harry Potter film casts $24 mln midnight spell

LOS ANGELES Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:37pm EST

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LOS ANGELES Nov 19 (Reuters) - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" conjured up box office magic at midnight screenings early Friday with $24 million in ticket sales, but it fell short of the $30 million record held by "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."

Second on the list of best midnight debuts is "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which opened in November 2009 with $26.3 million at midnight.

Still, the midnight debut for "Deathly Hallows" is the best for a "Potter" movie, surpassing 2009's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which sold $22.2 million worth of tickets in the United States and Canada in its midnight screenings.

Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com Box-Office said the midnight box office foreshadows a strong first day in theaters and an opening weekend that could produce well over $100 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices.

Warner Bros., the studio behind the "Potter" movies, has already said it expects debut weekend ticket sales to top $100 million. [nN17273377].

The biggest weekend opening for a "Potter" movie belongs to "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" with $102.7 million in 2005, according to Hollywood.com Box-Office.

"Deathly Hallows" is based on the final book in the hit series by author J.K. Rowling about the adventures of the British boy wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), split the final novel into two movies, with "Part 2" due to hit theaters in July 2011.

"Twilight Saga: Eclipse," based on the books about a romance between a teenage girl and a vampire, debuted in June this year and posted $68.5 million opening day.

Third on the list is "Deathly Hallows."

The "Twilight" movies are distributed by privately held Summit Entertainment. (Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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