'Phoenix' rises in 4,285 theaters

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Moviegoers shouldn't have to search far to find Warner Bros. Pictures' "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which opens today nationwide. The film plans to work its magic in 4,285 theaters, the widest domestic opening ever for a Warners movie, and it will employ more than 9,000 prints in North America.

In terms of wide openings, it stands second only to Buena Vista's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which set sail in 4,362 theaters in May, and slightly eclipses Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man 3," which swung into 4,252 theaters, also in May.

Warners' biggest domestic release to date was summer 2006's "Superman Returns," which opened in 4,065 theaters. By contrast, the last "Potter" movie, "Goblet of Fire," debuted in 3,858 theaters in 2005.

"Phoenix" will be shown digitally on 579 screens in 325 locations — also a Warners record.

As the movie unspooled at midnight screenings early this morning, it also was part of the largest day-and-date worldwide release for any film in the franchise as it is rolled out simultaneously in 44 markets worldwide. With 22,000 prints at work around the globe, the "Phoenix" release pattern easily outdistanced the 24-market release of 2004's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," which had seen the largest worldwide launch of any of the previous "Potter" titles.

Worldwide, the movie will be playing 750 digital screens — again, the largest ever for a Warners film.

In addition, "Phoenix" will open on 126 Imax screens worldwide — 91 of those in the U.S., with many featuring the final scenes of the film in Imax 3-D.

Directed by David Yates, "Phoenix" stars the familiar "Potter" cast, headed by Daniel Radcliffe as well newcomers like Imelda Staunton. David Heyman and David Barron produced, Michael Goldenberg wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling, and Lionel Wigram served as exec producer.
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