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‘Harry Potter’ movie a nostalgic, late-night hit for fans

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.

Tony Montanaro, 19, hasn't read the books, so the movie is "totally suspenseful." Also: "Just looking forward to Emma Watson." AJC photo by Jamie Gumbrecht.

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.

Draco Malfoy? Nope. Heather Hardigree, 18, of Winder. AJC photo by Jamie Gumbrecht.

“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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8 comments Add your comment

hanneke

July 29th, 2009
10:04 am

I watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last Monday. I was so thrilled to go see it in the theater, watched all other’s at home on DVD. I was soooo disappointed………I expected much more than I got. The movie was boring, not what we are used to see when watching a Potter movie. To all who read this, SAVE your money, this movie is not worth the expense, go buy yourself something nice and do not waste your time. I have never been more disappointed in a movie that is being advertised as the best Potter ever, I am sorry I disagree, it was awefull.

woodie

July 15th, 2009
4:31 pm

I read all the books and saw the movies and I lost interest. So I’ll wait till it comes out on TV.

Jamie Gumbrecht

July 15th, 2009
4:25 pm

Jeez, Kar, it’s not the magical version of waving a lighter or cell phone at a concert? ;)

You make a good point: the Harry Potter movies have taken quite long enough to come out without turning each book into a three-movie series.

Kar

July 15th, 2009
2:24 pm

Of course the movie butchered the book, I’m not about to sit through six hours of Snape’s detention, Moanin’ Myrtle’s well, moaning over Draco Dobby’s moodiness or the non-lovefest between Molly and LeFleur.

That said, they did a decent job with the bones of the book and the added scenes. The romance scenes were too slow, a hint really would’ve been enough in most cases although the audience around me hooted and hollared over anything.

I have a reccomendation though, while you may love your light-up wand please do not wave it in the air during the movie. Save it for the lines waiting outside the theater.

[...] wrote about the crowds — who was there, why they came and what costumes they wore — in an earlier blog post, but words might not do it [...]

[...] here’s an AJC story from a reporter who went last night to the show. She’s got photos from the [...]

Jamie Gumbrecht

July 15th, 2009
12:57 pm

I’m with you, Patrick, on the books. I read and enjoyed all of them, but haven’t been nearly so dedicated to the movies. They have their moments — love Quidditch on a big screen — but I didn’t even see “Half-Blood Prince” last night. (Too many photos to file, too many blog posts to write…) For those that just can’t sit still through a book, though, seems like they’re a solid entry into a cultural phenom.

Patrick

July 15th, 2009
8:32 am

I was at a Hot Topic last night and overheard the two clerks talking about the movie. One of them had admitted to not having read any of the books, and only watched the movies. I chided him and told him he needed to get all the books, sit down, and read them. There are a lot of things in the books that were left out of the movies, some that were minor and didn’t really affect the story when left out, and others that were cruicial to the story. For example, in the fifth book (”Order of the Phoenix”) Harry and his friends encounter all sorts of obstacles before getting to the room with all the prophecies, and Harry retrieves the prophecy. It also left out some of the cruelty that Umbridge inflicted upon the students, especially Harry, like when she injured Hedwig’s wing. I forget what she did in the book, but I remember one time yelling “you *****!” at the book. When a book can get a reaction like that from the reader, you know it’s good.

I hope too much wasn’t left out in this movie. I really couldn’t see anything that could be left out, but some things could have been changed around a bit.