It’s several hours before midnight on Thursday, July 14th 2011 and the crowd bristles with excitement. What made this moment so special? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the long awaited final installment in the massively popular Harry Potter series, is about to hit the screen. The media covers the red carpet events, press releases and celebrity screenings, however what is it like for the fans that grew up with Harry and Hogwarts for the past 10 years?
Normally movie goers groan as they endure the torture of commercials and previews. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows hit theaters November 2010, as Warner Brothers released Part 1 of the popular series finale. For most the excitement builds when the wait is almost over, however for this crowd the anticipation has been half the joy. Here, at the Regal Theater in Round Lake, Illinois, a communal spirit settled over the hundreds of fans who waited in line for hours. School-aged children up well past their bed-time, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged fans, parents and grandparents all gathered in this northern suburb of Chicago to celebrate the triumph of Harry Potter over the evil Lord Voldemort.
Most everyone in the crowd had a pretty good idea about how the movie would end. A great many of them finished reading the book, for the first time anyhow, within a day or so after it was released July 21, 2007. Now they want to see if Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows movie finale does the book justice.
For most everyone at the midnight showing of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, this evening was more than a night at the movies. It was a gathering of the most-avid fans for the end of an era. Says attendee, Chris Wescolowicz, age 20, from Antioch, Illinois, “It’s kind of like a mini-Harry Potter convention.” Strangers chatted like old friends, bonded by a shared passion for a tale that brings together humans and creatures from varied dimensions. More than half the crowd came dressed as a favorite character. So, students from Slytherian and Gryffindor Houses; members of the Malfoy, Potter and Weasley families; death eaters, wizards, house elves and dementors, all sat in harmony, awaiting the beginning of the end of an epic tale that for many, defined their childhood.
By movie’s end, this audience, as well as most critics, found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 to be an adrenaline-soaked, moving and satisfying ending to the eight-film, 20-plus hour series. But for many, the finale also represents something more. Audience member, Rebecca Ryan, age 19, from Lake Villa, Illinois, offered, “I grew up with these characters. Harry Potter started out when I was young, so it was important to me. We were about the same age. When the movie ended, it was kind of like the end of my childhood.”
While audience member Ms. Ryan and Harry Potter both bid adieu to childhood, the movie producers roll out the welcome mat for the legions of fans who are storming movie theaters. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 has blown away previous records for midnight showings, bringing in an estimated $43.5 million in tickets, according to the “Los Angeles Times.” Counting the overseas markets, in its first day of release Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 made $82.5 million. Now that’s movie magic.
“Los Angeles Times”; Final “Harry Potter’ Film Set Record for Most Tickets Sold During Mignight Screenings; July 15, 2011