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The latest Harry Potter movie has been out for a few hours, and it has already set records at the box office. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has, according to Variety, “scored the biggest midnight gross of all-time in earning $22.2 million as it unspooled in 3,003 runs at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.”

And the Harry Potter franchise is just tiptoes away from surpassing the 007 series as the biggest ever, reports The Times of London: “The five Harry Potter movies released so far have grossed a total of $4.48 billion at the worldwide box office. The James Bond pictures come in at $5 billion over the course of 22 films, beginning with the Sean Connery-starring Dr. No in 1962.”

The film is also mostly garnering critical raves; it has an 89 percent Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That hasn’t stopped the reliably pugnacious (but always entertaining) Armond White, film critic for the New York Press, from issuing a hitjob on the film, which he calls “humorless” and “astoundingly unimaginative.” He adds: “The Potter film industry has never employed a good director. As a result: one bad movie in a series is unfortunate, six amounts to a catastrophe.”

White says you should see British director Shane MeadowsSomers Town instead: “The perfect antidote to Harry Potter‘s costly, exhausting, purely commercial enterprise is Somers Town, where British teens deal with the bewilderment of puberty, parental distance, and social tradition in realistic circumstances more compelling than mere ‘magic.'”

Here’s the trailer for Somers Town:

In other British film news, it has been announced that yet another Bridget Jones sequel is in the works, and Renée Zellweger will don the magic Granny Panties once again. Variety reports, “The untitled third Bridget Jones pic, which is still in its early stages and probably won’t go into production until the end of next year, will see Zellweger reprise her role as a British publishing exec struggling to find love. It will likely be based on the weekly columns author Helen Fielding wrote in 2005 for British newspaper the Independent in which Bridget, now in her 40s, attempts to have a baby before it’s too late.”

What a sad sign for Zellweger’s career that she has to trot out this tired female stereotype again. One hopes, for her sake, that can convince Sharon Maguire, director of the first film, to take the reins on the new movie.

I’m more excited about Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss‘ re-working of Sherlock Holmes. They are set to produce a BBC mini-series titled Sherlock. “It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the iconic crimebuster and Martin Freeman as his loyal sidekick, Watson,” reports Variety. That’s much better casting than Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. Moffat (the new Doctor Who maestro) did such a great job updating Jekyll for modern times, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with Holmes and Watson.

  • Whitney Houston continues her Cinderella-style comeback with a private shopping spree in Sir Philip Green‘s London Topshop store.(Evening Standard)

  • Will Katie “Jordan” Price and her ample bosom wiggle their way into a Baywatch uniform? David Hasselhoff wants to do a British version of his worldwide TV phenomenon: “I’ve been thinking about basing a new show over here. It would be called UK-Watch. And Jordan is certainly feisty and has curves in all the right places.” Yeah, when you’ve paid that much for your curves, they’d better be.(The Sun)
  • Russell Brand will bring a “sexual terrorist’s” perspective to his role as Easter Bunny.(Guardian)
  • Singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner has taken a page out of Dolly Parton‘s playbook, donning acrylic nails to strum the guitar.(The Sun)
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Filed Under: Bridget Jones, Harry Potter
By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.