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Midnight Shows of Harry Potter Sell Out

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CNN: Fans of Harry Potter lined up at theaters all over the world early Wednesday, pushing the new film about the boy wizard to near-record ticket sales.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" -- the sixth movie in the series based on J.K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter books -- had more than 2,700 sold-out screenings, according to

The film had more than 1,500 midnight screening sellouts in the United States and finished as the No. 2 all-time movie for advance ticket sales at

The film finished just behind "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" in advanced sales.

The new movie reflects the growth of the characters: Harry, the orphaned boy wizard who has been forced to take on responsibilities beyond his years; Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), his best friend, who is finding depths of courage he wasn't aware of; Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), the bookish and indispensable member of their clan, who has demonstrated key leadership qualities; and all the rest, preparing for the showdown with the arch villain Voldemort.

Among the returning performers: Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Alan Rickman as Snape, Maggie Smith as McGonagall, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. One addition is Jim Broadbent, who plays Horace Slughorn, a former professor brought back to Hogwarts.

Despite the growing darkness, there's also a lightness to the new film, said Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry. Unlike the previous two movies in the series, which were rated PG-13, this one is rated a more family-friendly PG.

"I think this film's funnier," Radcliffe said. "There are a couple of moments which I laughed out loud at."

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