$80.1 MILLION FOR HARRY -- BEFORE WEEKEND BEGINS
Warner Bros. banked another $21.93 million in receipts on Thursday for the second day of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's reign at the box office. The amount was almost identical to the midnight preview take on Wednesday -- a day that culminated with a $58.18 million gross, the second-largest Wednesday gross in history behind last year's The Dark Knight. The film's two-day total now stands at $80.1 million before the official weekend goes into effect today (Friday).
BLU-RAY DISC SALES PICKING UP
After an unimpressive launch, Blu-ray Discs are finally beginning to take off. In its latest study, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group estimated that Blu-ray Disc sales rose 91 percent in the first half of the year versus the comparable period last year. Blu-ray rentals were up 62 percent during the half. At the same time, more than 2 million Blu-ray players were sold in the first half -- up nearly 25 percent from the first half of 2008. Home Media magazine quoted DEG President Ron Sanders (who is also president of Warner Home Video) as saying, "Despite an extraordinarily challenging marketplace, the home entertainment sector continues to be remarkably stable overall, particularly with the growth of higher-margin businesses like Blu-ray Disc and digital distribution." Somewhat surprisingly, Sanders disclosed that the studios get a bigger cut from Blu-ray Disc and digital distribution sales than they do from standard DVD sales.
FROM DARK KNIGHT TO SLUMDOG -- A GOOD YEAR FOR U.K. FLICKS
Ignoring the worldwide economic downturn, the British film industry is showing remarkable strength, according to a new study by the U.K. Film Council and reported today (Friday) in Britain's Guardian newspaper. The study shows that in 2008, British-produced films accounted for $4.2 billion of the worldwide box office -- representing 15 percent of the total. The trend is expected to continue this year -- as already demonstrated with the record-breaking launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- and in 2010 with the next Potter sequel, Deathly Hallows Part One. During the first half of 2009, spending on British film production amounted to $873 million, versus $593 million during the comparable period a year ago.
TRANSFORMERS 2 BEATS TITANIC RECORD IN CHINA
In just three weeks, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has become the biggest hit ever in China, earning over $59 million and far surpassing the previous record of $43 million set by Titanic in 1998, China Film Group told the Associated Press in Hong Kong today (Friday). Ordinarily, Hollywood films are widely available on bootleg DVDs before they ever hit the theater screens in China, but Transformers was released in China at the same time that it was released in the U.S., undercutting pirate sales. In an interview with the A.P., Mike Ellis, Asia-Pacific managing director of the MPAA, said. "This is a tremendous achievement for the market in China and clearly shows that there is a strong growing demand for international films." The MPAA has been working to persuade China to allow additional foreign films to be screened in the country. Currently, only 20 per year are permitted.