Few people can have avoided the hype that has been building around Warner Bros' Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, one of the most eagerly anticipated films of recent years. Now the children's adventure film is proving it can live up to the hype, at least in the UK. This weekend saw two-day previews, Saturday Nov 10-Sunday 11, of the film play to mostly sell-out houses at 490 UK sites.
With some cinemas playing the film on as many as five screens Potter scored a massive two-day gross of $9,716,956 (£6,665,818), which bodes well for its official opening next weekend to meet expectations and become the biggest opening weekend of all time. The current record is held by 1999's Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace which grossed an opening of $13.9m (£9.5m), including previews of $2.9m.
Potter has already recorded the highest opening of the year so far, despite still being a week off its official opening weekend as the films previews alone outshone the year's best starter. The largest debut weekend of 2001 so far belongs to February's launch of The Silence Of The Lambs sequel, Hannibal which took $9.3m (£6.4m), including previews of $1.1m.
That Harry Potter will have the biggest UK opening on record is now in no doubt, however the exact amount is important as it will lay down the challenge to Entertainment's upcoming winter event. After next weekend's Potter opening total is in, eyes will turn to next month's release of the first installment of Peter Jackson's The Lords Of The Rings trilogy, The Fellowship Of The Ring to see what answer it can give. Tickets for Entertainment's fantasy go on sale from Nov 19, one month before its opening on Wednesday Dec 19.