Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone is set to break records in the US this Friday when it opens in 3,672 US theatres.
The previous record for the widest US release was held by Mission: Impossible 2, which opened last year on 3,653 theatres. Shrek still holds the record for the most theatres overall - the film widened to 3,715 after debuting in 3,587 theatres.
Harry Potter has already been selling record-breaking volumes of advance tickets in the US and the UK. US ticket e-tailer Fandango.com says that it is on track to sell more than 250,000 by Friday (Nov 16), while AOL's moviefone.com says that the film is on track to exceed its own online ticket sales record set by Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
Beleaguered US exhibitors will take heart from the advance brouhaha surrounding Potter, and also by the prospect of another Star Wars film next year. Fox has announced that Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones is to open in the US on Tuesday, May 16, 2002. The new expanded Star Wars trailer will screen for the first time along with Harry Potter in the US.
Fox has also revealed that Attack Of The Clones - the second prequel to George Lucas' 1977 film - will see a day and date release in most other territories worldwide. The exception is Latin America, where the film will open over June and July.
"It's as close to worldwide simultaneous release as I've seen," said Bruce Snyder, Fox president for domestic distribution.