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'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' Sets New Wednesday Record With $44.8 Million at the Box Office

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People cue up for refreshments after midnight to among the first to see the film "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in Tyler, Texas.AP

The boy wizard still has a magic touch at the box office.

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" took in $44.8 million in its first day, the best single-day gross ever for a movie on a Wednesday.

That included $12 million from screenings that started at midnight Tuesday.

The sequel from Time Warner Inc. unit Warner Bros. topped the previous Wednesday record of $40.4 million for 2004's "Spider-Man 2," according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

"In terms of box office, the law of diminishing returns does not apply to `Harry Potter.' It seems to be getting better with age," said Paul Dergarabedian, Media By Numbers president, who noted that the July 21 publication of the seventh and final "Harry Potter" novel likely helped drive interest in the latest film.

"It has the effect of creating even more excitement for both properties," Dergarabedian said. "It's a synergistic match made in heaven to have the book and movie come out within a couple weeks of each other."

"Order of the Phoenix," the fifth installment of the movie franchise based on J.K. Rowling's fantasy best-sellers, has teen wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) teaching classmates magic spells to defend themselves against the coming battle with the forces of dark Lord Voldemort.

The cast includes Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as Harry's closest school chums, plus Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson and Imelda Staunton.