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    Half-Blood Prince Crowns Brüno (and Everything Else)

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Warner Bros

    Harry Potter ruled. Brüno met Doom.

    The weekend box office was the domain of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which followed up its big Wednesday opening with a big $79.5 million Friday-Sunday, per estimates, pushing its overall take to $159.7 million.

    Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno, meanwhile, saw ticket sales plunge 73 percent from last weekend, a drop that put the comedy in the inglorious company of all-time free-fallers such as The Real Cancun, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and videogame bust Doom.

    Here's how Half-Blood Prince stacked up against its Harry Potter elders (and, for those ardent Edward Cullen boosters, Twilight, too):

    After five days, Half-Blood Prince is the highest-grossing Potter film thus far (or thus short) into its run.

    As far as opening weekends go, Half-Blood Prince's is only the series' fifth biggest ever. But that's because it opened on a Wednesday, not a Friday, like four of the other five Potter movies.

    The best way to judge how Half-Blood Prince is doing is to look at what Order of the Phoenix did. The fifth Potter movie also was a Wednesday opener. Half-Blood Prince outdid Order of the Phoenix's opening weekend by about $2.5 million; it outdid its first five days by a fat $20 million. (Order of the Phoenix is no slouch, by the way—overall, it is the second-biggest grossing Potter film.)

    For the record, Twilight opened very big ($69.4 million), but not as big as Half-Blood Prince, or any other Potter movie yet released, which doesn't take away from Twilight's overall very-bigness. Now can't we all get along?

    About the only film that makes Half-Blood Prince look like a slacker is The Dark Knight. Compared to a year ago, when the Batman movie was enjoying a $158.4 million (!) Friday-Sunday debut, this weekend's box office business was down nearly 40 percent.

    Brüno didn't do much to boost Hollywood's bottom line. In its second weekend, the button-pushing comedy fell from first to fourth, and from $30.6 million to $8.4 million.

    Per Box Office Mojo, Brüno's second-weekend stumble was precisely 72.7 percent, placing it 31st on the list of all-time second-weekend stumblers, right between Doom and Rodney Dangerfield's Meet Wally Sparks.

    As bad as it looks, Brüno is not Austrian for Gigli. For one thing, that infamous Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck comedy took the third-biggest death dive in Hollywood history (81.9 percent). For another, Gigli took a $54 million budget and turned it into a $6 million gross, while Brüno has taken Universal's $42.5 million investment and turned it into a $49.6 million gross ($85.9 million worldwide).

    The studio spin about Brüno being nothing like Borat was correct. After two weekends, Borat had grossed $67.1 million.

    • Megan Fox stands among the greats. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed another $13.8 million, and moved into 13th place among Hollywood's all-time box office champs, with a whopping $363.9 million overall.

    Among the top-grossing R-rated movies of all-time, The Hangover ($8.3 million) bypassed Beverly Hills Cop and The Exorcist, and moved into third, with $235.9 million overall. "Only" The Matrix Reloaded ($281.6 million) and The Passion of the Christ ($370.8 million) stand between the Vegas comedy and a bleepin' crown.

    Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($17.7 million) moved past the $150 million mark overall.

    Maybe Cameron Diaz didn't open My Sister's Keeper ($2.8 million) at No. 1, but she's kept the movie in the Top 10 for four weekends, and helped the $30 million weepie to a $41.5 million take.

    • Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ($760,000) exits the Top 10 after eight weekends. The movie cost a reported $150 million; to date, it's made $171.8 million—so, box office-wise, it's kinda like My Sister's Keeper with talking statues.

    In limited release, the emo comedy (500) Days of Summer was bigger than Harry Potter, grossing $837,588 at 27 theaters for a weekend-best per-screen average of $31,022.

    Here's a complete look at the weekend's top-grossing films based on Friday-Sunday estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

    1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, $79.5 million
    2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, $17.7 million
    3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $13.8 million
    4. Brüno, $8.4 million
    5. The Hangover, $8.3 million
    6. The Proposal, $8.29 million
    7. Public Enemies, $7.6 million
    8. Up, $3.1 million
    9. My Sister's Keeper, $2.8 million
    10. I Love You, Beth Cooper, $2.7 million

    (Originally published July 19, 2009, at 9:09 a.m. PT)

    ________

    The masses couldn't wait for Harry Potter's release, but could you? Take our poll and tell us whether the film has already cast its spell on you.

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