Half-Blood Prince sets midnight release record

It's an amazing new record! Variety is reporting that midnight ticket sales for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince reached $22.2 million, setting a new midnight gross record in the film industry:

That figure beats the $18 million earned in midnight runs by Warners’ very own “The Dark Knight” and the $17 million earned by 20th Century Fox’s “Star Wars: Episode III -Revenge of the Sith.”

“Half-Blood Prince” opens in the same Wednesday slot that “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” did in 2007. “Order of the Phoenix” grossed $12 million in midnight runs on its way to a $139.7 million five-day debut.

B.O. observers expect the boy-or rather, teenage-wizard to be as popular as ever, if not more so. It’s been two years since the last Potter pic, or the last book in J.K. Rowling’s series, creating a pent-up demand.