Hailing Harry: 'Phoenix' spreads wings in Tokyo

Screaming crowds greet new 'Potter'

A very grown-up Daniel Radcliffe took the screaming movie fans of Tokyo in stride Thursday as the latest film in the Harry Potter franchise made its global premiere here.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth in the series of films adapted from the J.K. Rowling books, is expected to fare as well at the box-office as its predecessors.

"We have had an amazing time making the film and everyone who has worked on it is immensely proud of it," Radcliffe said. "I think the hardest thing about the film was to bring together Harry's thoughts and emotions and all the things he's going through and balance that with his newfound leadership skills. But I'm a person who likes a challenge."

The Tokyo premiere is the first of its kind in the world, with similar events scheduled for London on July 3 and Los Angeles in the coming days. The movie opens wide July 20 in Japan.

The crowd at the Roppongi Hills cinema included devotees dressed as pupils of Hogwarts Academy, while 17-year-old Radcliffe was the subject of much attention from young Japanese women, accepting bouquets and cards from several fans.

"We wanted to make the best film yet, that was the important thing," producer David Hayman said. "There are so many exciting things about this film, and the characters have all grown up so much since we started the series. The acting has all been raised to a new level."

Radcliffe paid particular tribute to fellow star Gary Oldman for helping him through the filming schedule.

Commenting on the welcome from Japanese fans, Radcliffe said: "It's incredible. … I hope people will be impressed by the new characters, the new performances and the big battle."