SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Starting at midnight, all 16 screens at the San Francisco Metreon were dedicated to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″. Every showing sold out.

Diehard fans who went to the last one that started at 3 a.m. were just walking out of the theater as the city woke up Friday morning. Reviews of the finale to the epic franchise many had grown up with were glowing.

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KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

The 8th film in the series was on its way to a potentially record-shattering opening weekend.

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Distributor Warner Bros. reported a $43.6 million take in 26 countries outside the United States on its first day Wednesday.

Studio executives said Thursday the franchise finale had the biggest opening day ever in several countries, including Australia with $7.5 million, Italy with $4.6 million and Sweden with $2.1 million. In France, the studio said “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” had the biggest Wednesday opening ever at $7.1 million.

In the countries where the film opened Wednesday, total revenues were 82 percent higher than they were on the first day for “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” last November, according to Warner Bros.

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The finale got a boost from the franchise’s first 3-D installment. Admissions for 3-D screenings, which cost a few dollars more than 2-D showings, accounted for 65 percent of revenues, the studio said.

The 3-D price advantage for the “Harry Potter” finale will help, given that “The Dark Knight” and other top domestic debuts, including “Spider-Man 3” at $151.1 million and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” at $142.8 million, played only in 2-D.

If fan frenzy is strong enough, “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” could become the first of the eight “Harry Potter” films to top $1 billion at the box office worldwide.

The record-holder remains the franchise’s first film, 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” with $974.8 million globally.

By splitting the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s seventh “Harry Potter” adventure into two parts, Warner Bros. essentially is doubling its box-office revenue. The first installment of “Deathly Hallows” pulled in $955.4 million worldwide.

“Deathly Hallows: Part 2” picks up where the first film left off, as young wizards Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) return to Hogwarts school for a final showdown against dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

The finale generally has earned glowing reviews from critics.

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