"Harry Potter" rings up record $476 million globally

LOS ANGELES Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:45pm EDT

(L-R) Alicia Limon, Scott Johnson, Danny Conn and Vanessa Limon, dressed up as their favorite characters, join the crowds line up to be the first to see the new Harry Potter movie ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'' at a minute after midnight in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California July 14, 2011. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

(L-R) Alicia Limon, Scott Johnson, Danny Conn and Vanessa Limon, dressed up as their favorite characters, join the crowds line up to be the first to see the new Harry Potter movie ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'' at a minute after midnight in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California July 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The final "Harry Potter" film shattered box office records worldwide with a whopping $168.6 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales over the opening weekend and nearly $476 million globally.

The staggering domestic total for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" is the best three-day opening for a film ever, distributor Warner Bros said on Sunday. It beat the previous record of $158.4 million over the initial three days for the 2008 Batman movie, "The Dark Knight."

Internationally, the finale for "Harry Potter" captured $307 million in 59 countries since it opened last week, another record. That includes weekend sales plus Wednesday and Thursday for some markets.

The prior record for an overseas opening belonged to "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the fourth installment of the series released in May, which took in about $260 million outside North America in its debut.

The eighth film in the "Harry Potter" series about a teenage wizard and his friends battling against evil also set records for the largest opening-day domestic sales total, largest midnight screenings and largest opening on giant IMAX screens.

The movie took in an average $38,526 on more than 4,300 screens, according to Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc. It was the first "Potter" film also released in 3D.

"Harry Potter," already the highest-grossing film franchise ever with over $6.4 billion in global ticket sales, is based on the novels of British author J.K. Rowling.

"A CULTURAL EVENT"

The massive numbers for "Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" showed the story still enchants audiences a decade after Harry's first film adventure was released.

"It's become a cultural event," said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. Young fans stuck with the series as they grew up and the audience expanded over the years, Fellman said, adding that final global ticket receipts could "easily" reach the rare $1 billion mark.

The "Harry Potter" magic dwarfed other films over the weekend, but there were a couple of notable events.

Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" reached a milestone by hitting $41.8 million in domestic sales since its release, making it the highest-grossing film in North America from director Allen, according to distributor Sony Pictures Classics.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" took the No. 2 spot on U.S. and Canadian box office charts with an estimated $21.3 million over three days, distributor Paramount Pictures said. The film ranks as the year's first film to top $300 million in domestic sales with $302.8 million total.

Rounding out the weekend's top five domestic films were "Horrible Bosses" with $17.6 million, "Zookeeper" with $12.3 million and "Cars 2" with $8.3 million. Disney's new "Winnie the Pooh" movie finished sixth with $8 million.

"Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" and "Horrible Bosses" were released by Warner Bros. Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

"Zookeeper" and "Midnight in Paris" were released by various units of Sony Corp. "Cars 2" and "Winnie the Pooh" were distributed by Disney's Pixar animation unit, a division of Walt Disney Co.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Vicki Allen)

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