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'Harry Potter' sweeps into theaters 2 days early

LOS ANGELES -- Harry Potter and his school chums are headingback to class a little sooner than expected.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" now is openingWednesday, July 15, two days earlier than its previous releasedate, Warner Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman said Tuesday.

That gives the movie a head-start on the weekend during what'sshaping up as a highly competitive summer season for Hollywood,which has major franchise films opening virtually every week.

"Every day the kids are out of school in summer is just like anextra Saturday," Fellman said.

Warner Bros. also opened the franchise's most recent release,"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," on a Wednesday inJuly 2007.

It's the second date change for the sixth installment in theadventures of the boy wizard. "Half-Blood Prince" had beenscheduled for release last fall until the studio bumped it to thisJuly to take advantage of an open weekend in the busy summerlineup.

The franchise stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, with Emma Watsonand Rupert Grint as his best pals at Hogwarts School of Witchcraftand Wizardry.

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