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Midnight magic for Harry Potter

July 17, 2007|by DANIELLE HIGGINS

HALFWAY - When "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" came out a year and a half ago, I did not attend the midnight showing. I saw the movie the night after it came out. The crowds were insane. Tickets were sold out. Although I bought tickets beforehand, some of my friends did not and the theater was sold out. After many failed attempts begging at the box office, we ended up selling our tickets and heading to another movie theater.

I expected the July 10 midnight showing of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" to be utter chaos last week at Regal Valley Mall Stadium 16. Instead, it was rather calm. There was a large crowd (as evident by the long lines at the snack bar) but fortunately, at the Valley Mall, the movie was showing in several theaters.

Even so, the theater I was in was full. Not quite every seat was taken, but it was crowded nonetheless. The crowd was mostly teenagers and younger people. There weren't that many young kids, but after all, it was the midnight showing.

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My friends and I looked for Harry Potter fans in costume in the lobby. Compared to last year, there were fewer people dressed up. But we found some.

Christen Logsden, 16, will be a senior at South Hagerstown High School. Her costume was inspired by Severus Snape, hence the black shirt and Death Eater hat.

"The movies are like Harry Potter come to life," she said, although she does believe the books to be better. One part of the hype about the movies frustrates her: In interviews, they never talk to Rupert Grint. Ron is her favorite character, but she believes he seems to get the short end of the stick.

"They give all of his clever lines (from the book) to Emma (Watson, who portrays Hermione), just to make her sound smarter or something," Christen said.

Mandy Newton, 16, will be a junior at Boonsboro High School.

"I like Harry Potter," she said. "It's amazing." She thinks the books are far better than the movies.

Mandy's friend Beth Stranathan, 16, also will be a junior at Boonsboro High. She doesn't mind the movies but says that the books are still better.

Haley Johnson, 10, will be in fifth grade at Maugansville Elementary School. She has not read the books, but she loves the movies. She has several favorite characters.

"Fred and George are funny," she said. Haley should have been happy with the antics of Fred and George in "Order of the Phoenix," which included selling joke spells (and testing them on first-year students), using magic every chance they had, to the annoyance of Mrs. Weasley, and an interesting disruption of examinations.

Haley's favorite movie was the fourth, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

I didn't see too many other kids Haley's age, which confirmed a suspicion of mine. Harry Potter used to be hailed as the book series that got kids to read again. But now, it seems as if younger kids aren't reading the books. They only take part in the magic of Harry Potter through the movies.

Older teens like me and my friends had the books first. We were excited when we found out that our beloved book series would be made into movies. We diligently re-read the books before the release of the next book or movie installment. For the older teen, both the books and the movies are essential to the Harry Potter experience.

Back to the theater, the crowd cheered when the previews finally ended, and the familiar Harry Potter music began.

Throughout the movie, people laughed at Potter's and his friends' jokes while jeering at Professor Umbridge and her numerous proclamations.

Afterward, it was like a reunion as people from other theaters merged in the lobby to talk to friends about the movie.

Harry Potter fans are hard to please. However, there seemed to be few complaints with "The Order of the Phoenix." Yes there were a few deviations from the novels, but it seemed to work. So long as Potter lovers don't storm out of the theater hyperventilating and screaming "Half of that wasn't even in the book!," you know the movie had at least some success.

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