Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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JK Rowling Fulfills Dying Girl's Wish

30 December 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Harry Potter author JK Rowling made a dying girl's dream come true by reading her new book to her so the youngster would know what happened before she died. The millionaire writer phoned Catie Hoch to read out stories from her unpublished manuscripts as she worked on her latest book. The author, real name Joanne, kept up the amazing friendship with emails, gifts and phone calls so Catie would know how the Harry Potter stories would develop. After Catie, from Albany in New York, died the author told her parents their little girl had left, "footprints on my heart." Rowling also made a private donation of $100,000 to a cancer fund set up in Catie's memory. Catie's mother, Gina, told Britain's Sunday Mirror newspaper, "I will be forever grateful for what Joanne did. She gave us something priceless by having this relationship with Catie." The youngster was six when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. Catie was nearly at the end of the third book, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, when doctors revealed she had just weeks to live. Catie was desperate to know what happened in the fourth book, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, on which Rowling was working at the time. So a family friend sent an e-mail to the author's publishers in London . and days later the author sent back a personally written letter, calling herself simply Jo. The two began exchanging letters and e-mails during the course of their amazing friendship. But as cancer gripped Catie, Rowling realized the youngster only had days to live . so she telephoned from her Scottish home to read the latest tales about the young wizard over the phone. Gina adds, "We laid Catie down on the couch, and Jo read to her over the phone parts of the manuscript. Catie's face lit up." The author rang three or four more times but Catie grew so ill she could not longer listen . and died on May 18, 2000. »

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'Harry Potter' Author Out-Earns the Queen

30 December 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Harry Potter creator JK Rowling was the top female earner in Britain this year - beating Madonna and Queen Elizabeth II. Her annual pay of $77 million was six times greater than the salary of Queen Elizabeth, according to the annual list in Britain's Mail On Sunday newspaper. Rowling's tales of a young wizard have been a worldwide publishing phenomenon and the focus of two hit films. The writer was followed on the list by pop superstar Madonna's pay of $41 million. The American singer qualified for the list because she lives in London with her film director husband Guy Ritchie. Other celebrities in the top 10 list include television quiz presenter Anne Robinson ($17 million), Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones ($16 million), Sharon Osbourne ($14.7 million) and Kylie Minogue ($12 million). »

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Harris Won't Be Re-Created by CGI

20 December 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Reports that late Harry Potter star Richard Harris will be created by computer trickery in the next installment of the franchise have been proved false. The legendary actor, who died in October after battling cancer was set to resume his role as Professor Dumbledore in the next Potter film The Prisoner Of Azkaban. However, insiders at Warner Bros. have stated categorically that they will not undertake the feat by using computer technology. Although both Christopher Lee and Sir Ian McKellen have been muted as possible replacements there is no word yet on who will take over the role. »

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'Analyze' shrinks in face of Bond

9 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Analyze That, the new mob comedy from Warner Bros. Pictures and the weekend's only new wide release, didn't exactly end up swimming with the fishes, but it lacked the muscle to take over the boxoffice territory as it was brushed aside by that old smoothie James Bond in MGM's Die Another Day. In the week-to-week seesaw battle for the top spot between Die and Warner Bros. Pictures' Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets -- each film has now held the No. 1 position twice in the past four weekends -- agent 007 moved back into first place with an estimated $13 million in its third session. Analyze That opened to a discouraging $11.3 million. Chamber of Secrets moved into the third spot for the first time as the fantasy-adventure film conjured up an estimated $10 million. Universal's Empire, from Arenas Entertainment, had a strong debut in the fourth slot with an estimated $6.3 million from 867 theaters. Last weekend, Buena Vista's Treasure Planet with $12.1 million was the top grosser of the mostly dismal spate of five new wide releases. This weekend, Planet was in orbit around the fifth slot on its sophomore outing as it picked up an estimated $5.7 million. »

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New 'Harry Potter' breaks French B.O. record

6 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sold a record 631,400 tickets on its first day, premieres included, making it the best opening for a U.S. picture in French boxoffice history, Warner Bros said Thursday. The opening day figure, which included 240,451 admissions to premiere screenings, is equivalent to a gross of around $3.35 million. The movie was released on a French record 1007 screens. The second Harry Potter is now the second biggest opening of all time in France after the Luc Besson-produced car action movie Taxi 2, which drew 801,922 admissions on what nowadays seems a modest 831 screens. That movie benefited from five daily screenings, whereas the 2 hour 40 minute Harry Potter picture can only squeeze in three per day. With the consensus among French critics being that the second episode is more fun than the first, Chamber of Secrets has clocked a 25% increase in day-one figures compared to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which went on to accumulate nearly 9.4 million admissions in France. The previous record opening for a U.S. movie in France was Men in Black II, which sold 580,978 tickets on its first day including premieres. »

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Madonna and Julia Roberts Slip Down Power List

4 December 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Madonna and Julia Roberts have both fallen a few places in the Hollywood Reporter's influential annual list of the 100 most influential women in show business. Despite Roberts' slip from third last year to number 12, she remains the most highly-paid film actress. Madonna fell from number 42 to number 60 this year, following her movie disaster Swept Away, while Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling came in at 64. The list reflects a sharp rise of women in top posts in Hollywood. Top of the list is Sherry Lansing who became the first female chairman of Paramount Pictures in 1992. »

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Young wizard, seasoned spy divide and conquer o'seas

3 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

In overseas markets where both Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the new James Bond entry, Die Another Day, competed over the weekend for boxoffice attention, each held the No. 1 or No. 2 position. In territories where Potter or Bond played solo, each easily emerged as the dominant picture, overwhelming everything in sight. At this point, Chamber is running ahead of the wizard's initial magic, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone, and Die is vigorously alive as the biggest-scoring Bond ever in each new opening. In the weekend race, Chamber grossed an estimated $56.8 million from 8,202 screens in 32 markets, providing an international cume to date of $208 million. It gives Warner Bros. Pictures a worldwide total of $408 million after 17 days in release. Die's weekend tally came to $31.6 million from 3,120 screens, raising the cume to a robust $65.4 million. »

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'Chamber' back on top as leftovers top holiday b.o.

3 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Boxoffice leftovers held tight to the top spots during the Thanksgiving weekend in North America against an onslaught of five new wide releases aimed at a broad range of demographics -- most of which turned in weak debuts -- on what was an overall disappointing session. Warner Bros. Pictures' Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets slipped back into the top spot with $32.1 million on its third weekend, MGM's Die Another Day moved into second on its sophomore frame with $31 million, while Buena Vista's The Santa Clause 2 surged 19% from a week ago with $12.1 million and moved up a notch into the third slot in its fifth weekend -- and with 725 fewer theaters. Chamber of Secrets has grossed $200.2 million to date, reaching that level just two days slower than the first Harry Potter film. The 10-day total for agent 007 surpassed $100 million as its cume reached $101.4 million, and the G-rated Santa Clause 2 has unwrapped $113.6 million to date. »

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Holdovers bury 'Treasure'

2 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, industry expectations were running high as several strong holdovers -- and five new wide releases that appealed to a broad range of demographics -- were hoping to take the boxoffice to record heights. But most of what magic there was at the boxoffice was conjured up by Warner Bros. Pictures' Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as the fantasy-adventure film levitated back into the top spot after a one-week absence. Chamber pulled in an estimated $32.2 million during the three days, beating MGM's James Bond installment Die Another Day, which debuted in the top spot a week earlier. Die moved into the No. 2 spot with a three-day estimate of $31 million, off a modest 34% from its opening. Buena Vista's latest $100 million-plus animated feature Treasure Planet placed fourth with a disappointing three-day estimate of $11.9 million and has dug up $16.5 million since its release Wednesday -- the worst opening in recent history for a major Disney animated release. Sony's Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights took in an estimated $10.1 million to place fifth and collected about $15.1 million for the five days. Fox's Solaris debuted in the seventh slot with a bleak estimate of $6.8 million and $9.5 million for the five-day period. Dimension's Wes Craven Presents: They opened in the ninth slot with a not-so-scary estimate of $5.7 million. They has taken in roughly $8 million since its Wednesday opening. Paramount Pictures' Extreme Ops was in the 14th slot with a frigid estimate of $2.3 million and $3.1 million for its five-day cume. »

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Record boxoffice grosses, sales for November

2 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The month of November raked in a record $824.1 million from the nation's boxoffices, while theater admissions managed to squeak past last year's all-time high for the period as well, thanks in part to the plethora of year-end blockbusters on the marquee. The modest year-to-year rise in grosses and admissions was no mean feat considering that Thanksgiving occurred a week earlier in 2001 and the year's November survey period included the lucrative weekend after the holiday. Because of the way the holiday falls on the calendar this year, the weekend after Thanksgiving is not a part of November's revenue, which makes the month's record haul in boxoffice and ticket units all the more impressive. Warner Bros. Pictures' Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was far and away the biggest boxoffice generator for November. But Buena Vista's Tim Allen starrer The Santa Clause 2 and Universal's Eminem-topped 8 Mile also helped carry the month into record territory, grossing more than $100 million each during the frame. »

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J.K. Rowling Tempts Audience

21 November 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

A card from Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling containing clues about her forthcoming fifth book is to be auctioned for charity. The card, which contains 93 words taken from Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, will be auctioned at London's Sotheby's and is expected to fetch $9,000. Sotheby's have released a snippet of the card which will go to auction next month. It reads, "Thirty-eight chapters...might change...longest volume... Ron... broom... sacked... house-elf... new teacher... dies... sorry." The money will go to Book Aid International, who provide books for people in developing countries. The British author, who has sold 175 million copies of her magical series worldwide, is currently basking in the success of the second film adaptation of the franchise, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, which is smashing worldwide box office records. »

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'Chamber' conjures $59 mil in 8-market overseas launch

19 November 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Pull out the thesaurus, and any words synonymous with "thrilled" will give you an idea of the joyful mood at Warner Bros.' international division as the second film installment of the J.K. Rowling children's series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, opened over the weekend to a rousing reception. "We are thrilled to report that our numbers are even higher than our predictions yesterday (Sunday). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets soared to new heights and set multiple boxoffice records in eight international opening markets this weekend," said Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, president, international distribution. In moving ahead of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone, Potter's second coming beat the first one in all markets except Germany, bringing in an eye-catching $59.5 million with 7.1 million admission from 4,265 screens. The results, added Kwan-Rubinek, were "particularly outstanding, given the non-holiday playtime." The United Kingdom broke all-time records set by Potter No. 1, tallying almost $30 million (with previews) in the widest release ever in the country: 1,275 screens at 524 sites. »

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Warner reaps more magic from 'Potter': $88 mil bow

19 November 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The wizards at Warner Bros. Pictures waved their boxoffice wands once again, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets summoned a remarkable $88.4 million on its debut in North America -- marking the fourth-biggest opening weekend of all time. The boxoffice gross of Chamber of Secrets -- which opened in a record 3,682 theaters -- was just 2% shy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which debuted a year ago and went on to collect a worldwide tally of nearly $970 million. The first Harry Potter movie is the second-highest grossing film of all time after Titanic. The sensational opening of Chamber of Secrets, in addition to solid product still in the marketplace, combined to raise the total for the 124 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter to $172.7 million -- up 7% from the comparable session last year. But it bears mentioning that most of the films in the marketplace took precipitous drops from the week before, with family films in particular taking direct hits from Chamber of Secrets. The Chris Columbus-helmed Chamber looks to continue to spell big boxoffice for the distributor in the weeks ahead, as the fantasy-adventure scored a sterling 98% favorable grade from moviegoers, according to CinemaScore.com. »

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Boxoffice preview: 'Harry Potter' and the also-rans

15 November 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Even the dimmest of muggles should be able to read the tea leaves: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which opens in a commanding 3,682 theaters this weekend, is the preordained boxoffice champ. The only question open to discussion is exactly how powerful Harry's magic spell will be the second time around. With Chris Columbus once again at the helm, Steven Kloves again providing an adaptation of the J.K. Rowling novel and the original cast headed by Daniel Radcliffe all returning, Warner Bros. Pictures has come as close as possible to cloning a hit. Last year at this time, Warners' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, riding a crest of media-fueled Potter-mania, wowed the film business with its $90.3 million bow. Edging ahead of 1997's The Lost Word: Jurassic Park, which opened to $90.2 million, the first Potter wore the biggest-opening-weekend crown until Spider-Man swooped down in May and established the current $114.8 million gold standard. Chamber certainly isn't expected to leap-frog Spider-Man, but it could give Sorcerer a run for its money. True, Potter-mania seems to have abated some, but the fans appear just as eager as ever: Last weekend, previewing in 522 sites in the United Kingdom, Chamber set an all-time advance-peek record of $12.6 million. »

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McKellen: "I Was Offered Dumbledore Before Harris Died"

14 November 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Lord Of The Rings legend Sir Ian McKellen has confessed he was offered the coveted role of Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films - before Richard Harris died. Harris, who appears in the first two installments of the magical franchise as the Hogwarts headmaster, lost his battle with cancer on October 25 - with a replacement yet to be confirmed for the upcoming third flick. McKellen and fellow Brit Christopher Lee have been touted in the British press as possible Dumbledores. Sir Ian, who plays wizard Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, admits he has been offered the bearded part - but before Harris died. The acclaimed thespian has not confirmed or denied whether he has been approached again or if he wants to take over the part, but a posting on his official website teases, "I still haven't seen the first Harry Potter. Before Richard Harris died there was an enquiry from the Potter camp about filching Gandalf. The Grey or the White was not specified." »

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'Order of the Phoenix' Finished Says J.K. Rowling

11 November 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has uttered the words every fan of her books has been waiting for - the fifth part of the magical saga is finished. The pregnant writer has revealed that the new book, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, is longer than the fourth tome, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, by one chapter. She says, "At the moment it's 38 chapters. I'm really pleased with it. I'm just going to tweak it a tiny bit more, then the publishers will have it." The eagerly-awaited book will be out in shops within five months while the second film adaptation, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, will hit cinemas on November 15. »

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Potter Villain Is Real-Life Magic Man

7 November 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Harry Potter villain Jason Isaacs was the perfect choice to play Lucius Malfoy in The Chamber Of Secrets - because he has a magical past. The British actor has always performed tricks since he was young, and used his magical know-how to prepare for the dastardly role. He says, "I've always been a key magician, strangely enough. I used to do close-up magic and I used to entertain at children's parties when I was at drama school. I love the spooky magic. I remember, when I was younger, I used to do this thing at school with my best friend where we would stand in assembly and do some strange little secret nod to each other and communicate telepathically all through assembly and when we saw each other at lunch times. We never checked to see if we were having the same conversations, luckily. That would be really weird." »

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Crowe Joins Mourners at Harris Funeral

5 November 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood badboy Russell Crowe was close to tears at the London funeral of Gladiator co-star and close pal Richard Harris yesterday. The Oscar-winning actor flew 5,000 miles from filming Master And Commander in Rosarito, Mexico to attend the service in St Thomas More Catholic Church in Chelsea, west London and the private cremation in Mortlake, south west London afterwards. Russell told journalists outside the church, "I love him and I miss him." The actors became boozing buddies as they worked on the Roman epic in 2000 when Russell played General Maximus Decimus Meridus opposite Richard's Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Before Richard's death last month the Irish hellraiser tipped the Antipodean star to carry on his badboy behavior. Richard said, "Top bloke, loves his rugby, doesn't give a stuff, brilliant actor, a much loved new friend. He will carry the baton on. He irritates the hell out of the Hollywood bigwigs, but he's much too good for them to ignore." After the service, Russell spoke to the grieving family and kissed Richard's eight- month-old grandson and hugged the actor's son Jared, 37. The Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets star's coffin, draped in an Irish flag was carried out of St Thomas More by six pall bearers, including his sons Jamie, 36 and Damian, 39. Richard's ex-wives Ann Turkel and Elizabeth Rees, who Richard remained friends with until his demise, were also present. »

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Lee to Be Dumbledore?

30 October 2002 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Legendary actor Christopher Lee is tipped to take over the late Richard Harris's role of Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films. The Dracula star, 80, is a "strong favorite" to replace Harris - who died on Friday at age 72. Executives said Lee - a James Bond villain in The Man With The Golden Gun and the evil Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings films - "fits the bill of Dumbledore perfectly." Lee was originally asked to be Dumbledore but refused because he was too busy. Harris stand-in Harry Robinson is also in the running to land the role for the third film Prisoner Of Azkaban, filmed next spring. Warner Bros will make an announcement this weekend. »

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Boxoffice leaders hold strong in bad weather; 'XXX' tops

29 October 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Deadly storms and gale-force winds took somewhat of a toll at the weekend boxoffice in Europe, but several high-profile standard-bearers managed to hold strong in a market absent significant newcomers. Most of the major studios are vying to move in and get their backlogs played off before the deluge of year-end powerhouses headed by Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the new James Bond installment. For the second week in a row, the Rob Cohen-directed double-agent thriller XXX emerged as the biggest international scorer, followed by Red Dragon, Signs, Minority Report, The Bourne Identity and Lilo & Stitch. Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio is still going strong in Italy, holding on to the top spot for the third consecutive week by edging out the debut of Red Dragon. Pinocchio pulled in $2.7 million (market cume: $19.3 million) from 531 screens to Red Dragon's $2.3 million from 326, but Hannibal Lecter beat Pinocchio's per-screen average. »

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