The second instalment in Warner Bros Harry Potter franchise, The Chamber Of Secrets, got off to a magical start at the UK box office this weekend, despite not officially opening until Nov 15.

Figures for the weekend reveal the film grossed a mighty $12.5m (£7.86m) over its three-day preview weekend - with further previews on Thursday Nov 14 the film is receiving the longest preview period ever in the UK - and has recorded the highest preview period figures recorded in the country beating its predecessor, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, which claimed $10.7m (£6.74m) from 491 sites over a two-day preview period on Nov 10-11, 2001.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets screened at a record 522 locations with a mammoth 1,263 prints, an average of 2.4 screens occupied per venue and approximately 40% of cinema screens in the country.

Many venues had long ago sold out tickets for the film after distributor Warner Bros started advance booking in September.

The PG (parental guidance) certified film took $2.9m (£1.81m) on Friday (Nov 8) despite screenings not commencing until 4pm, after British schools were out for the day.

However the figure of $5.1m (£3.2m) recorded on Saturday was slightly lower than the $5.7m (£3.6m) that Philosopher's Stone managed on its own week-ahead Saturday preview. Similarly the estimated Sunday tally of $4.6m (£2.9m), puts it behind Philosopher's Stone's $5m (£3.2m) comparative take.

The preview weekend score for the Harry Potter sequel already makes it the second highest three-day take for a film released this year in the UK, behind Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones' $14.4m (£9.1m) opening weekend. Once again Potter looks strong to lead the UK box office 2002 top 10 at the end of the year.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone grossed $102.2m (£64.3m) from the UK theatrical circuit after opening on Nov 16 2001. The phenomenally successful film is the second-highest grossing film of all-time worldwide, behind Titanic, with a total cumulative score of $969m.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets is again directed by Chris Columbus and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, alongside Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane and the late Richard Harris. This entry into the franchise also features Kenneth Branagh in the key role of Gilderoy Lockhart.