'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1' Earns $24 Million in Midnight Showings

Celebrated Sidekick
Jaap Buitendijk

Robbie Coltran, seen here with Daniel Radcliffe in one of Deathly Hallows many action sequences, returns as Hogwarts' beloved caretaker Rubeus Hagrid, a role he originated in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, for which he earned BAFTA and Los Angeles Film Critics Circle Award nominations. 

But "Deathly Hallows," which opened early in a record 3,700 theaters, fell just short of "Eclipse's" record.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 conjured a lively $24 million in estimated box-office from a record 3,700 theaters in the U.S. and Canada offering midnight-Thursday performances of the action fantasy.

Its midnight box office fell just short of record territory. Last summer’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse rung up $30 million in witching-hour coin as part of its $68.5 million first-day tally on Wednesday, June 30. PHOTOS: Inside Harry Potter 7.

Midnight receipts for Hallows: Part 1 included $1.4 million from high-grossing Imax specialty venues. That is a record, surpassing Imax’s $1 million midnight contribution by Summit Entertainment’s Eclipse.

The first of two films based on the seventh and final book in the Potter literary series, Hallows: Part 1 is expected to fetch well more than $100 million through Sunday while posting the biggest-ever opening by a Potter movie. The PG-13 picture is playing in a total 4,124 domestic theaters this weekend. PHOTOS: The U.K. premiere of Harry Potter

The last Potter film – July 2009 opener Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – conjured $77.8 million during its first three days and $302 million in total U.S. and Canadian coin. The franchise marked its best opening to date in November 2005, when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire debuted with $102.7 million, and the $317.6 million fetched by the original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone stands as its biggest domestic haul.

Many consider Hallows: Part 1 likely to register $400 million or more in domestic box office by the end of its theatrical run. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is set to debut next July 15, with plans to release the franchise-capping Part 2 in 3D. RELATED: Weekend box office analysis.

There’s only one other wide opener set for this weekend -- Lionsgate’s Russell Crowe starrer The Next Three Days. Helmed by Crash director Paul Haggis, the PG-13 action thriller that could fetch up to $10 million through Sunday.