Harry Potter Update

UPDATE 1:00PM ET - Hogwarts fans rushed out to multiplexes on Tuesday night powering Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to a new post-midnight record with an estimated $22.2M in ticket sales from just the overnight shows starting at 12:01am. The figure easily beat out the $18.5M that The Dark Knight collected on the Thursday night before the same weekend last year. HBP also surged a stunning 85% above the $12M that the last film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, grossed in its post-midnight debut which was also a Tuesday night in July. That pic pulled in $44.2M in its complete opening day on its way to a $139.7M Wednesday-to-Sunday debut in 2007.

Last August, Warner Bros. delayed Prince's release from November 21, 2008 to July 17, 2009 (then again to July 15) causing a frenzy among fans who then had to wait an extra eight months to see their favorite wizards on the big screen. The pent-up demand was clearly on display on Tuesday night as the faithful showed up in droves for the well-reviewed pic.

Prince also beat out the $16M post-midnight tally of last month's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which went on to score the second best opening day ever with $62M and a colossal $200.1M over five days. Half-Blood Prince is not expected to beat that five-day level since there was more urgency to see the very first wizard shows which will likely push more of the total turnout onto the opening day.

The sixth installment in the magical series carries a PG rating and officially opens today in 4,275 theaters across North America and widens to 4,325 locations on Friday which will make it the third widest launch in history after Dark Knight (4,366) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (4,362).

What makes the Prince gross even more impressive is that it had virtualy no business from IMAX theaters. Because of the change in release date, the studio was not able to open the IMAX version day-and-date everywhere since the Transformers sequel had already locked up those screens and was allowed a one-month run. Fallen, Knight, and Phoenix all saw higher-priced tickets from IMAX screens add to their opening day numbers. The last Potter pic bowed in 91 large-format sites in its first day while Fallen was able to debut wider in 169 IMAX venues thanks to the expansion of screens over the past couple of years.

Prince did open last night in solo IMAX locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago along with 62 more sites overseas and hits the rest of the North American venues on July 29 when many repeat customers are expected to show up.

Check the box office chart for the Top Opening Days of All-Time which Half-Blood Prince will soon join.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Check back all week for special daily Harry Potter box office updates.

For a NEW review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince visit The Chief Report.

Last Updated: July 15, 2009 at 1:00PM ET

Written by Gitesh Pandya