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The Week Ahead

Hopes, running time are high for 'Potter'

November 11, 2002|Robert W. Welkos

Can Harry Potter work his box-office magic again?

On Friday, Warner Bros. will roll out "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," the second film based on J.K. Rowling's wildly popular fantasy books about the young wizard-in-training. Expectations are high that the film will match or exceed the success of last year's first installment, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which grossed $969 million worldwide.

The studio is following a similar game plan for the second film, which will open in more than 3,500 theaters. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" bowed on 8,000 screens in 3,672 North American theaters -- the widest opening ever.

It's a tough act to follow. It'll take a lot of magic for Warner Bros. to ignite anywhere near the massive interest that accompanied the first movie, when legions of children dressed up as little wizards and descended on theaters.

This time, there is not a new book to fuel fan interest, as Rowling is still working on the fifth installment of a planned seven.

With a running time of 161 minutes, "Chamber of Secrets" may have some moviegoers fidgeting in their seats toward the end, but it is an adventurous ride, and the three children -- Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron and Emma Watson as Hermione -- are uncanny in their likeness to Rowling's characters.

-- Robert W. Welkos

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