I was prepared for some kind of wizard-mania on Tuesday night, when “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” opened in theaters, but expected something less.
Not the book parties of a few years ago, or the madness that surrounded the first movie. Last time I’d checked, half of the eight midnight shows at Regal Mall of Georgia planned sold out. Surely the others would be full by the time I slogged up 85 and made it through a mall parking lot so massive one could be lost and not found till the economy improves. Still, I expected something…muted?
No pushing and no weeping that I witnessed, although theater employees said some folks were turned away. The truly dedicated could return for a 3:15 a.m. show. I take that back: the truly dedicated could’ve gotten in line for Juniors Mints and Cokes right around midnight, THEN enjoyed the show. Some attending the midnight shows were in costume and in line by 6 p.m., and they already had tickets.
So while the story is written for Potter, hero of children’s literature, it’s not over for Potter, movie character. Several folks I interviewed had never read the books, or maybe made it through one. I heard over and over, “I’m not really a reader,” or “I’m not a book person.” For them, the story is still very much alive, and you better hush up with the cliffhangers and you-know-whats.
Even for those who said they’ve read the boy wizard series once, twice, seven (!) times, the movies are different and new.
They are nostalgia. One group of teens told me The Kids These Days don’t even like Harry. They just like those silly Transformers. (Note: this is exactly the opposite of what I would have said. What do I know.)
It’s escapism, maybe. Heather Hardigree is 18, and the Winder resident plans to study computer science and Japanese at University of Georgia in the fall. She came in full Draco Malfoy dress.
“In real life, get me someone like Ron Weasley,” she said. “It’s kind of funny, watching Harry Potter and minoring in Japanese.”
In not-real life? Bad is so good, and it has a convincing accent.
It’s something else, too. Brian Dresdow is 21, a student at the University of South Carolina, but home in Sugar Hill for the summer. He arrived more than three hours before the movie started, wearing a sweater, tie and homemade black robe with the Gryffindor seal.
“I’ve dressed up for all the premieres,” he explained. “I started reading them when I was 11, maybe fifth grade. I got a chance to grow up with Harry Potter.”
For a few hours on Tuesday, his friends were around, hanging out in line. Little kids drilled him with Red Bull-fueled high-fives. He looked forward to a movie with less suspense, but a curiosity for detail. AND he got to reuse his Jedi robe.
Yes, there is some kind of logic to this magic: why stop something fun if you don’t have to?
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