‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Midnight magic reigns as fans flock to theaters

July 15, 2009 | 8:20 a.m.

Remember those Harry Potter fans who said they would boycott the sixth movie because Warner Bros. delayed its release to make more money? Yeah, right, good luck with that. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” has arrived and our Yvonne Villarreal was out there among the muggles and brought back this report.

Harry Potter, outstanding in his field



They didn’t just want to see a movie, they wanted to live it — and wear it. Some of the muggles came in maroon-striped scarves and school-uniform neckties; others donned capes and stuffed pillows under their shirts to give them the girth of a plump wizard. They came in wigs, gray sweaters (despite the stifling heat), tube socks and, oh yes, wire-rimmed glasses. Lots and lots of wire-rimmed glasses.

The witching-hour spectacle played out at theaters across the Southland as hundreds of Harry Potter fans stayed up late so they could be among the first to see the sixth film in the most magical of Hollywood franchises. The film sold out more than 4,500 midnight shows and was looking to break the records for a Wednesday opening.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for months,” said Naomi Gonzales, 21, of Sylmar, who purchased tickets for the 12:55 a.m. showing at Universal CityWalk with her cousin. “There was no way I was going to wait. Midnight was the only option. Who needs sleep? Harry Potter is my caffeine.”

At the AMC CityWalk Stadium, all six showings were sold out. The two midnight showings at Mann Theatres in Hollywood? Sold out. That was the story far and wide; At one point, Fandango was selling eight tickets per second, according to the website.

Camille Soroudi, 18, and her friends London and Gaby came to the 12:15 show at CityWalk in their Hogwarts uniform.

“It better lives up to the book,” said Soroudi, who with her friends started a Harry Potter club at their high school when they were students there. “I don’t want it to be like ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.’ If you’re going to bring the book to the big screen, do it right. They should have brought [director] Chris Columbus back.”

The sixth installment in the Potter franchise, shot over an eight-year span, is directed by David Yates, who did the previous film and is at work on the final two. If initial ticket sales are any indication, the latest installment is on track to match or exceed “Order of the Phoenix,” which finished with a worldwide box-office total of $938 million.

Potter-mania via cyberspace didn’t end with online ticket purchasing.  Fans of the boy wizard and his sidekicks have made “Harry Potter” a top 10 “trending topic” on Twitter since July 13.  As midnight neared Tuesday, many “tweets” buzzed with anticipation.

Around 6 p.m. PST, “Erickaholic” wrote, “Waiting in line for the harry potter premierrr :)”

“Bamberella” wrote, “Harry Potter tonight . . . not an avid book reader but fan enough to go to the midnight showing. Boo ya!”

Others, like “PhantomWho,” planned to tweet their thoughts of the movie as they watched it. 

And many expressed their plans to watch Harry, his sidekick Ron and brainy gal pal Hermione more than once.

“Are you kidding?” said Lauren Poissant, 19, of Long Beach, who came dressed as Rubeus Hagrid and lugged along an egg (made of papier-mache) housing the baby dragon Norbert. “I’m definitely going to see it more than once. It’s just that kind of movie.”

— Yvonne Villarreal

Half Blood Prince poster

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Dumbledore diss? Michael Gambon sees “no point” in reading Rowling

Daniel Radcliffe talks about life after Hogwarts

VOTE: Which film might get Oscar nom? “Up,” “Trek” or “Potter”?

Rupert Grint explains the pain of love . . . and quidditch

Jessie Cave spills about scaring, smooching Rupert Grint

QUIZ: How well do you know the halls of Hogwarts?

Getting to know the real-life Weasley boys

SCOOP: David Yates reveals where he will split “Deathly Hallows”

STILL WANT MORE?  All “HARRY POTTER” coverage at Hero Complex

Photo credits: Warner Bros.


6 Responses to ‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Midnight magic reigns as fans flock to theaters

  1. FilmBuff says:

    Well, I for one was willing to boycott over the delay, but was talked into seeing this one at opening. As for it making any more money, I seriously doubt that following Transformers and Terminator, or any of the other great releases recently helped matters much. Those with limited moviegoing budgets probably spent thier wad on other films, and may well be happer having done so once they see this. I have already warned 3 people about the level of disappointment on this film. It may end up being a high grossing film, but only on the coattails of it's predecessors. Certainly not because it's worth going to see.
    I did see the midnight showing and was thouroughly disappointed. The movie wasn't bad, but it certainly didnt live up to the other 5, and was a far cry from the book story. It missed huge plot areas and overplayed others far less important. I thought that with the movie being 2:33, they would do a better job of covering the subject matter but alas, what was probably my favorite of the books was my least favorite of the movies.
    While Warner Brothers may have a huge opening day hit, I seriously doubt this will gross what Transformers did just because the movie simply has no re-watch-ability factor. I don't even care when it comes out on DVD cause IMO, it's just not a worthy chapter in the film series. The 3 Mains, Luna, Slughorn, DUmbledore and Belitrix all play great parts. Past that, the acting is very flat from the rest of the supporting cast. Not that they were bad in all cases, but their characters are really left to play a part that's just too flat in the story. The worst use by far of Maggie Smith. Snapes character is muddied up. There's a complete lack of any action scene really. The untimely demise of a main character is almost like an afterthought.
    I give the movie a 3 stars of 5, and that's rounding up a full .5.
    Wait till the Blu-Ray is in the $4.99 bin to pick this one up. Or get it free with the purchase of a happy meal or something.

  2. HP says:

    Wow, FilmBuff did we see the same movie? Take your bad mood elsewhere cranky pants!
    This is the best HP movie to date as it sticks to the book, (obviously you can't use EVERYTHING from the books) but this focuses on the most important elements from book 6 – only dissapointing note is that the Dursleys arent in it. The bond between Harry & Dumbledore is truly touching & makes the ending all the more painful to watch, and the budding romance between Hermione & Ron reminds you of what first love feels like. The acting in this is the best as everyone delivers and stays true to their characters. Also, this movie has a lot of simple, yet funny moments that add a certain charm to the film. Harry's character in particular has quite a funny scene that will make you think as you watch him, "wow, this kid's all grown up." Ron's character gets more of the attention he deserves in this film and the Harry & Ginny relationship is sweet & you can't help but cheer for them!
    This was well worth the extra wait and is well worth seeing on the big screen. If you're a fan of the HP series you have to see this movie. You will be sorry if you miss seeing this on the big screen. 5 out of 5 stars

  3. janet says:

    FilmBuff – my sentiments EXACTLY i saw this film today
    CRAP thats the only words for it VERY thin onthe ground and i too is having to tell people to DONT bother watching it your WASTING your money, damn shame this is HARRY POTTER and they messed it up big time by doing it this way, the audience was sombre and were saying it was crap!
    if anyone else reads these comments PLEASE DO NOT BOTHER WATCHING YOUR NOT MISSING NOTHING!

  4. hairyplotter says:

    The movie is one thing, the book is another. That's just how you gotta view it. Both can be entertaining. if you don't like the movie then don't watch it, but don't discourage other people from watching it.

  5. Kristal says:

    I LOVED Harry Potter! It's going to be a major success, for sure. Check out my thoughts here: http://bit.ly/EQ13k

  6. Filmbuff says:

    Quote by hairypotter "The movie is one thing, the book is another."
    You have no idea how correct you are. This is my point exactly. The audience who supports the HP Series began reading the books long before there was a first movie to view. Those folks have grown up enjoying this story, along with the generation that bought those books for the same kids, and also reading and enjoying them. For these people, such as myself, the movie is just an extension of the book. It's a way to get hollywood to use thier magic so I can visually see the world that I already read about. A big part of the experience is to see those parts of the book that you found most interesting to read, shown on film.
    Well, virtually all the most interesting parts of the book were lost in this film. Where are they? Entire parts that would have made the film far more interesting just vanished? And, hmm, just who was abducted by the death eaters with the bag over their head? Oh, yea, that's Ollivander, not that we'd have a clue watching this film cause there was no supporting dialog in that scene (which lasted about 5 seconds). Harry wasn't at the bottom of the stairs, he was turned to a statue and was in the room during … We've waited 6 years for Snape to be the DADA teacher, does he get to have a class with Harry? No…. When he confronts Harry about who's book he has, is there any supporting scenes to tell us why Snape would make this comment or be suspicious of him having the book, or is it out of the clear blue? This IS the central plot point of the movie, and IS the title, is it not?
    Don't worry about anyone being talked out of seeing this movie. Everyone's gonna see it anyhow. Just… nobody in their right mind would see it twice.
    Janet, you and I are on the same page. Evidently the only ones on any page of HPHBP.

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