It’s the beginning of the end. The end of Harry, that is.
On Thursday night, thousands – perhaps millions – of Harry Potter fans waited in line to see the penultimate installment of the Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
“Everyone laughs and cries together, like a big family,” said Taylor Breidenbaugh, a Penn Manor senior who came as Bellatrix Lestrange.
The excitement for this movie was palpable.
According to MovieTickets.com, Deathly Hallows was the fourth biggest advance ticket generator in history.
The teaser clips and official poster arrived early in October, and most of the fan sites – like the Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet – had widgets counting down till the release date.
Lancaster’s Regal Manor 16 theater was no exception.
When fans arrived at 10:30 that fateful night to see the midnight showing, they were astonished to see a line starting at one of the theaters and stretching around the corner. And around another corner. And another, until finally halting at the very rear of the building – theater 12.
Every so often, employees set up the movie equivalent of snack cart – complete with popcorn, soda, and candy, so fans wouldn’t have to step out of line to procure their favorite treats.
There were easily three hundred people in that line, and the number kept growing. According to an employee, three separate theaters had been sold out.
Most of these people were normal, average, everyday muggles out for a movie. There were some, however, that were most definitely not the kind of people you would expect to see out of Diagon Alley.
There were Harrys and Rons, Hermiones (complete with Time Turners) and Quidditch players.
The most common type of getup was simply a cashmere gray sweater over a white button down dress shirt, complete with a different color tie depending upon the house and bottoms – pants for men, skirts for ladies.
There were also wizard supporters sporting homemade t-shirts, like “Horcrux Finders Quidditch Team” and “Team Draco.”
Some fans took it to the next level, and had some crazy, creative costumes – like a golden snitch or Harry’s Patronus. Others chose characters like Dolores Umbridge, Bellatrix, Luna, or Tonks.
Once the managers started directing people into the theaters at 10:45 p.m, the fun really began.
It was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments: the girl dressed as the Golden Snitch jumped up, and saw a man sporting a broom and a homemade Quidditch (any witch or wizard’s favorite sport, a cross between rugby and soccer – oh, and it’s played on a broom) uniform. Their eyes locked. Then she took off, weaving between the aisles and leaping down stairs, trying to elude the Quidditch player who had jumped after her. The whole room erupted in cheers, almost everyone with a smile or look of pure joy on their faces, and when he finally caught the Golden Snitch, the applause and laughter would have scared any Dementor away. And this was at 11:00 p.m..
A Dobby (dressed in a pillowcase) circulated through the crowd, receiving more than one cheer.
Regal occasionally changes up the sequence that appears on the screen that tells fans where the refreshments are and to be courteous to the other movie goers.
This time the fan was taken through a roller coaster ride on the screen, which sped through signs telling movie goers to silence their cells phones and looped in corkscrew like paths.
What did a third of the theater do? Raised their arms just as if they were riding a real roller coaster, and waved their arms whenever they went around a turn, ooh-ing and ah-ing at the appropriate moments.
And of the movie itself?
“I thought it was great. It stuck to the storyline pretty well and had the right amount of seriousness and comic relief,” said sophomore Cate Shipley, who came dressed as Gryffindor Lavender Brown.
“It followed the book pretty well. They did a good job, as always, at really capturing so much emotion. It is more mature than the other stories but still has fun parts. I really enjoyed being at the midnight premier because everyone is so excited and into it,” said Breidenbaugh.
Film critic Roger Ebert gave the movie a three out of four star rating, and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 78 percent. However, ninety percent of the Rotten Tomatoes audience section gave it thumbs up, with the average rating being 4.4 out of five.
Fox News gave the movie 2.5 stars, saying “This seventh film in the series (Part 2 will be released next summer) is a drag: Too little happens – and then when it does kick into gear, it stops: ‘To be continued.”
Then the review goes on to say, “As for the story, well, why bother trying to explain it at this point? If you haven’t been following along, there’s no catching up. It would be like trying to explain “Lost” to someone who missed the first two seasons and wants to start with the third.”
According to MSNBC, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 earned $24 million at the midnight showing – and that’s just the domestic sales.
Over the opening weekend, the movie accrued $330.1 million worldwide – the most out of any movie in the series.
All of the seven movies so far have made $5.5 billion worldwide.
“When we started ‘Harry Potter,’ basically, the audience was driven to theaters by their parents. Today, those same kids are driving to the midnight shows themselves,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Brothers.
The MPAA gave Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a rating of PG-13, for intense action violence, frightening imagery, and brief sensuality. Common Sense Media, a website that helps parents decide whether a movie or television program is age appropriate or not, gave the movie a 12+ rating – and four out of five stars.
“I thought it was a great movie! It followed to book really well with the right amount of action and funniness, and cut parts that really didn’t need to be in it out. I can’t wait till July when the second part comes out,” said Andrew Glick.
As one of the final scenes played out – and the significant character event that readers of the series will remember occurred – one could hear sniffles and sobs around you.
The fans were mourning – mourning the characters that they have loved and lost, the stories they grew up with, and the adventure that has to come to a final end.
by Gabrielle Bauman