Despite early availability of the title on pirate DVD and VCD formats, Warner Bros. estimates that Harry Potter grossed a promising $2m from 300 theatres during its first week of release in China (Jan 30 - Feb 5).

"It's out-performing The Mummy Returns, but not doing as well as Pearl Harbor which was a summer release," said Chen Qingyi, marketing director at the Shanghai Film Art Centre where the film premiered on Jan 26.

The Mummy Returns took two weeks to reach the $2m mark when it was released in China last October. Pearl Harbor was the country's top-grossing film last year with $12.4m.

Harry Potter, known as Ha-li Bo-te in China, has opened at a traditionally quiet time at the Chinese box office. But the film is expected to run through the Chinese New Year holiday period (Feb 12-15), when local audiences, particularly kids, flock to the cinema.

Notably, the film opened in the territory just two months after its US release. Warner Bros. rushed Harry Potter through China's lengthy clearance process in an attempt to beat video piracy. However, the film was readily available on DVD and VCD in the country's main cities within a week of its US opening.

China allows the importation of 10 foreign films a year on a revenue-sharing basis, although this number will double following its accession to the WTO. Warner Bros. was the first US studio to release a film in China with The Fugitive in 1994.