"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" conjured a lively $24 million in estimated box-office from a record 3,700 theaters in the U.S. and Canada offering midnight-Thursday performances of the action fantasy.
Its midnight box office fell just short of record territory. Last summer's "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" rung up $30 million in witching-hour coin as part of its $68.5 million first-day tally on Wednesday, June 30.
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Midnight receipts for "Hallows - Part 1" included $1.4 million from high-grossing Imax specialty venues. That is a record, surpassing IMAX's $1 million midnight contribution by Summit Entertainment's Eclipse.
The first of two films based on the seventh and final book in the Potter literary series, "Hallows - Part 1" is expected to fetch well more than $100 million through Sunday while posting the biggest-ever opening by a Potter movie. The PG-13 picture is playing in a total 4,124 domestic theaters this weekend.
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The last Potter film -- July 2009 opener "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" -- conjured $77.8 million during its first three days and $302 million in total U.S. and Canadian coin. The franchise marked its best opening to date in November 2005, when "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" debuted with $102.7 million, and the $317.6 million fetched by the original "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" stands as its biggest domestic haul.
Many consider "Hallows - Part 1" likely to register $400 million or more in domestic box office by the end of its theatrical run. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" is set to debut next July 15, with plans to release the franchise-capping "Part 2" in 3D.
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There's only one other wide opener set for this weekend -- Lionsgate's Russell Crowe starrer "The Next Three Days." Helmed by "Crash" director Paul Haggis, the PG-13 action thriller that could fetch up to $10 million through Sunday.
Watch clips from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1":