Harry Potter Magic at Box Office

Harry Potter is working box-office magic again, though the boy wizard couldn't quite conjure up a revenue record.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second movie based on the fantasy book series by J.K. Rowling, took in $28.86 million domestically on opening day Friday, distributor Warner Bros. estimated Saturday.

That's about 11 percent behind the $32.3 million the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, grossed on its opening day last year.

"We're a little bit under that, but we're still going to be in the stratosphere," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of distribution. "We're on our way to a fantastic weekend."

For the full weekend, Chamber of Secrets is expected to take in less than the $90.3 million gross of Sorcerer's Stone, which was then a record debut, Fellman said.

Spider-Man set a new record last spring, grossing $114.8 million in its first three days, but Fellman said Chamber of Secrets is on track for the third-best debut weekend ever, ahead of the $80 million gross of the current No. 3, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.

If the estimate holds when final numbers are tallied Monday, the Friday gross of Chamber of Secrets would be the ninth-best single-day haul ever for a movie.

Spider-Man holds the top two spots on that list, taking in $43.6 million in its second day and $39.4 million on opening day. Sorcerer's Stone places third and fourth with $33.5 million in its second day and $32.3 million in its first.

The studio's expectations were lower for Chamber of Secrets than they were last year, when fans feverishly awaited the first movie.

"The first movie was really part of a cultural event," Fellman said. "I think Potter at that moment was truly at its peak. The anticipation of that film went way beyond what you'd see for a normal movie."

Chamber of Secrets again stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry and Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as his chums at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Director Chris Columbus and the adult cast also returned for chapter two, including the late Richard Harris as Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore. Harris died last month after finishing the filming.

With reviews and early fan reaction indicating the new movie is better than the first, Fellman said the studio hopes Chamber of Secrets will have a longer theatrical life and eventually exceed the $317.6 million total gross of Sorcerer's Stone.