Monday, November 19, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” has set the mark for the highest-grossing weekend in U.S. box-office history, taking in $93.5 million in its first weekend and shattering the record held by the dinosaur sequel “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
Other records also fell by the wayside. “Harry Potter” posted the top three one-day box office hauls, according to studio estimates yesterday.
The film also positioned itself to become the fastest movie to hit $100 million, with a shot at crossing that mark in its fourth day on release today. “Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace” took five days to reach that level.
The film produced long lines around the country, with more than 400 people cramming into the Uptown Theatre in Northwest to see the first regular Washington screening at 8 a.m. Friday. Many audience members child and adult alike were dressed in Harry’s signature glasses, black cape and black hat.
“I liked his scar,” said Jeremy Montoya, 11, who noted that he was the same age as Harry, though without the permanent mark his hero sustained at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort.
“I just like Harry. I read all the books,” the boy told the Los Angeles Daily News after watching a matinee in Van Nuys, where the movie was showing on six screens, including two with Spanish subtitles.
“We obviously knew going in we were going to have a great opening,” said Dan Fellman, the head of distribution for Warner Brothers. “Nobody anticipated such a staggering number that would shatter every industry record.”
The movie opened in a record 3,672 theaters on about 8,200 screens nearly a fourth of the nation’s movie screens.
“I think in the wake of September 11, people are looking for entertainment close to home,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the box office. “‘Harry Potter’ plays right into that. It’s a fantasy world people can get out of the house and enjoy for a few hours, but stay relatively close to home.”
“Lost World” took in $72.1 million in its first three days over the 1997 Memorial Day weekend. If the box-office estimate holds , “Harry Potter” will have surpassed in three days the $90.1 million “Lost World” grossed in its first four days.
The distributors have little time to bask in the film’s success. Production on “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” begins today in London, with Warner planning to have it in theaters the weekend before Thanksgiving next year. The studio hopes to do the same with the third “Harry Potter” movie in 2003.

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