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Box Office Preview: Just how much magic can 'Harry Potter' conjure?

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Half-blood-Prince-harry_l

Who would have thought that pushing the sixth installment of Harry Potter back six months would actually be a boon to the studio? That sure seems to be the case with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Initially scheduled to bow last November, the film finally opened Tuesday at midnight to $22 million. It has now grossed $58.1 million, making it the second-highest grossing Wednesday ever, just below Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen‘s $62 million. Every other studio got out of the way of this juggernaut. Only question now is how high can it go during its first five days in release?

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: $96 million

The last Harry Potter also opened on a Wednesday and grossed $44.2 million its opening day. With a more family-friendly PG rating, Half-Blood Prince has already outshone its predecessor. Its five-day total could climb as high as $175 million, helped out by its extremely wide release of 4,325 sites — the third widest launch in history. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to catch it in IMAX for another two weeks, as Transformers has a lock on those theaters ’til then.

2. Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: $15 million

This animated toonfest had a spectacular 34-percent hold its second weekend in theaters. Expect a bit bigger of a drop this weekend due to Potter-mania — but nothing that would cost the film the second spot for its third weekend in theaters.

3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: $12 million

Michael Bay’s robo-mash-up has already grossed $339 million, making it the top movie of the summer thus far. It should experience something close to a 50-percent drop its fourth weekend in theaters, but will still be closing in on the $350 million mark.

4. Bruno: $11 million

Sacha Baron Cohen might have overdone it this time around. Despite receiving positive reviews from critics, Cohen’s flamboyant Austrian fashionista is not nearly as beloved as his previous character Borat. A huge 39-percent drop in grosses from Friday to Saturday, coupled with a disappointing C Cinemascore, suggests that audiences aren’t nearly as enamored with Bruno as Universal Pictures had hoped. Expect a steep drop this week, something north of 60 percent.

5. Public Enemies: $7 million

This Michael Mann-Johnny Depp pairing held on extremely well its second weekend in theaters. As the only adult alternative, it should still do pretty well this frame. And with a domestic gross of $66 million, this ’20s gangster flick still has a chance to cross the $100 million mark.

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