'Prince' already outpacing 'Phoenix'

New 'Harry Potter' may beat Batman's midnight score

A franchise-best tally of $12 million in midnight boxoffice -- posted by 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" -- has already been shot down in flames by the sixth installment in the Warner Bros. film series.

That was pretty impressive to studio insiders, considering "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" wouldn't open in a single domestic venue until several hours later. But by late afternoon Tuesday, exhibition sources made it clear advance sales of "Prince" tickets would allow the latest "Potter" pic to outpace the witching-hour boxoffice for its immediate predecessor in the moneymaker of a franchise.

In a sign of just how hot tickets sales have been for "Prince," industryites are whispering the "Potter" pic has an outside shot at besting the record $18 million midnight boxoffice registered by Warners' "The Dark Knight" last July 18. All signs are certainly auspicious, with Fandango and MovieTickets reporting thousands of performances have already sold out and many venues programming multple venues with "Prince" for early showtimes.