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Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban smashes UK opening day record

Story by: Jack Foley

HARRY Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has smashed British box office records, becoming the first film to make over £5m on its first day of release in this country.

The film, which opened on Bank Holiday Monday (May 31, 2004), opened in 535 locations, and took a colossal £5.03m, despite the warm weather.

According to the Screen Daily website, it enjoyed the biggest opening day and biggest single day takings in UK history - and is set to emulate that fate, when it opens around the world on Friday.

The Prisoner of Azkaban marks a darker direction for the Harry Potter series, and is directed by the Mexican, Alfonso Cuaron, who replaced Chris Columbus (now producer).

It was met by almost universal acclaim, and marks one of the most profitable ‘gambles’ in recent film history.

The last Potter film, The Chamber of Secrets, made £2.18m on its first day of release, which was a Friday, in the run-up to Christmas. It also faced competition from the second film in the Lord of the Rings series, The Two Towers, despite being released a couple of weeks earlier.

This latest film, however, was tactically brought forward to coincide with the bank holiday, as well as the first day of the school half-term holidays, and only faced competition from environmental disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow.

Yet, in what proved to be a bumper weekend at the Box Office, on both sides of the Atlantic, Roland Emmerich’s epic also performed above expectation, taking £7.3m over the whole weekend.

This compares favourably with the season’s other blockbusters thus far, with Van Helsing making £4.94m in its first three days of release, and Brad Pitt epic, Troy, amassing £6m over the same period.

The Day After Tomorrow also chalked up an estimated $85 million in 110 countries over the weekend, according to Daily Variety, making it a world-wide hit to boot.

Back in the UK, the main competitors to Harry Potter’s anticipated Box Office domination look most likely to be Shrek 2, which has already gone down a storm in America, and Spider-Man 2 - both of which are set for UK debuts in July.

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