'Harry Potter' breaks midnight record

Sixth edition rings up $22.2 million

Harry was a wizard at the witching hour.

Setting a new all-time record for midnight boxoffice, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" rung up an estimated $22.2 million from 3,003 midnight performances Wednesday.

The sixth installment in Warner Bros.' oh-so-lucrative film franchise continues its first day of release in 4,275 domestic locations. "Prince" expands to 4,350 theaters on Friday.

The midnight coin for "Prince" compares to a $12 million haul from similar showtimes for the last "Potter" pic, 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." That was part of a first-day tally for "Phoenix" totaling $44.2 million.

"We're ecstatic," Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman said. "We owe a big thanks to the Harry Potter fans, who are supporting us so well even after the picture was moved back."

Warners delayed the release of "Prince" from November to July to boost its boxoffice prospects for this summer.

Warners' 2008 blockbuster "The Dark Knight," which had held the record for midnight boxoffice at $18 million, also fetched the most opening-day boxoffice ever. Bowing on a Friday, "Dark Knight" registered a mind-bending $67.2 million last July 18.