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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 17:57 GMT
Fans' delight at Potter sequel
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Potter returns: Cinemas are expecting huge takings
Fans have given an ecstatic welcome to the second Harry Potter film which made its debut at cinemas in the UK and US on Friday.

The Chamber of Secrets was shown on more than 1,000 screens in the UK alone - two-fifths of the country's movie capacity.

One of the UK's biggest cinema chains, Odeon, has sold nearly 350,000 advance tickets worth £1.7m.

It reserved 228 screens for Potter - almost half its total - and will do so until demand wanes.

At the Warner Village cinema in Shepherd's Bush, west London, young fans gave the new film a firm thumbs-up on Friday afternoon.

Daniel Radcliffe signs autographs at the premiere
Daniel Radcliffe's Potter will make millions for Warners
"I loved it," said eight-year-old Elodie Egerspeger.

"I found the bit with the spiders the scariest though. I've got a phobia about spiders."

The movie was too frightening for some, but not scary enough for others, who were on an outing from John Betts primary school in nearby Hammersmith.

"It was spooky but not scary," said 11-year-old Dominic Howard. "It doesn't make you jump. It's still really good though."

The first Potter adventure, The Philosopher's Stone, took £64.3m in the UK after it opened a year ago.

Odeon Leicester Square
One chain is showing Potter on half its screens
Worldwide, it made $961m (£618m) to become the second highest-grossing movie of all time behind Titanic.

Warner Bros, which is producing the Potter films, said it could not comment on box-office expectations for The Chamber of Secrets.

But there is little doubt that the film will follow the success of its predecessor and take millions worldwide.

But days before the film appears on cinema screens around the world, it has appeared on the internet.

Warner Bros confirmed illegal copies of the film have appeared on sites that show copies of new movies.

It is thought the pirate copies are taken from handheld video cameras smuggled into preview screenings.

JK Rowling
Author JK Rowling has spawned a phenomenon
The film's general release comes as veteran British actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough denied rumours he was to replace the late Richard Harris as wizard Dumbledore in the third film.

The 79-year old said his schedule was too busy to allow him to shoot the third of the Potter adaptations.

Meanwhile, a preacher in the US has told parishioners that JK Rowling's books promote paganism, and has ripped them up at his services.

Reverend Douglas Taylor's group, The Jesus Party, in Portland, Maine, has ripped up books in the lead-up to the new movie.

The first Potter movie was a massive hit in every significant global territory, including Europe, Japan, the Americas and Australia.


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