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Is Harry losing his magic?

EARLY bookings for the first screenings of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which opened at midnight today, were not as good as expected.

Cinemas in the city reported only average bookings. The box office record is held by "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen," which opened in Shanghai on June 24, Oriental Morning Post reported today.

The film is the sixth in the Harry Potter series.

Yonghua Cinema City had sold about 100 tickets by 7pm yesterday. More than 1,200 tickets for "Transformers 2" had been booked by 7pm the day before that film opened.

The Grand Cinema, which had prepared 1,350 seats for Harry Potter fans, had bookings for just 200 tickets by 7pm.

The manager of the cinema, surnamed Yang, said most Harry Potter fans were aged around 20 and lacked spending power. "Most Transformers fans are in their thirties and are willing and able to spend money on what they like."

Harry Potter appeared on film for the first time in 2001. The five Warner Bros movies based on the books have made about 370 million yuan (US$54.5 million) on the Chinese mainland.

However its weekly box office take will probably top other current films, said Wu Hehu, deputy director of Shanghai United Cinema Lines. But the total take for "Harry Potter" would be hard pressed to exceed that of "Transformers 2, he said.

Wu said "Harry Potter" was a good movie series with consistency but "Transformers 2" was easier to understand.

One audience member, surnamed Liang, who attended the first screening of "Harry Potter" said he found the movie a little boring and not as interesting as the previous films.

"Transformers 2" has topped the city's box office for more than two weeks.


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