{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had the most successful opening of any Harry Potter film over the weekend, as it took in $79.5 million for the three-day period between Friday and Sunday and $159.7 million for the five-day period beginning Wednesday, according to studio estimates The figure fell somewhat below what the most bullish box-office forecasters were predicting after the Warner Bros. film's spectacular debut on Wednesday (when some were suggesting that it would earn more than $200 million for the five days), but it was just about what most of them figured it would record after the pandemonium of the first day settled down. The film also dominated the box office overseas, producing $237 million in ticket sales, for a best-ever $396.7-million worldwide gross. Second place went to Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which took in a hefty $17.7 million (it has now earned $580 million worldwide), followed by Paramount'sTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen with $13.8 million. And then there was Brüno, who suffered a brutal 73-percent fall on his keister in his second week to a fourth-place $8.4 million, seemingly ruling out any hope that the spoof would earn anything close to the $128.5 total gross that Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat did two years ago. In limited release the Sundance Film Festival favorite 500 Days of Summer from Fox Searchlight posted $837,500 from 27 theaters -- an impressive average of $31,000 per theater. (Half-Blood Prince averaged $18,382 per theater.).

{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, $79.5 million; 2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, $17.7 million; 3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $13.8 million; 4. Brüno, $8.4 million; 5. The Hangover, $8.32 million; 6. The Proposal, $8.3 million; 7. Public Enemies, $7.6 million; 8. Up, $3.1 million; 9. My Sister's Keeper, $2.8 million; 10. I Love You, Beth Cooper, $2.7 million.


In the handful of cities where it was launched this weekend, (500) Days of Summerfar outshone the latest Harry Potter movie both in terms of cash receipts (it took in nearly twice as much as Harry on a per-theater basis) and in critical praise. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Timesgreeted it with a rare four-star review, writing that it's the rare romantic comedy that does not play by "the Hollywood rules," thereby causing audiences to "perk up" as they realize that "anything could happen." Indeed, A.O. Scott in the New York Timesdescribed it as "a fairly pointed response to the sorry state of romantic comedy in Hollywood, which runs the gamut from gauzily implausible fantasy to blatant and fatuous dishonesty, with an occasional detour into raunchy humor." This "winsome, accessible movie," he observed, "has a novelty and a measure of bravery working in its favor." Claudia Puig in USA Today raved: "It's hard to imagine a more delightful, witty, well-acted and inventive comedy hitting screens this year." Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily Newsdescribed it as "the rare romantic comedy that feels like real life."


The latest Harry Potter sequel has given Warner Bros. its seventh No. 1 hit of the year and has pushed the studio's domestic gross past the $1 billion mark, it said Sunday. The success of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes on the heals of the studio's The Hangover,which, with more than $235 million in ticket sales thus far, has become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever domestically. In a news release, Warner Bros. said that it is the only studio to earn $1 billion annually for nine consecutive years.