Going Potty

2011-07-09 00:00

BRUSSELS — From the Indian metropolis of Mumbai to the dusty plains of Texas, frenzied fans across the globe are barely a week away from the release of the eighth and final film in the Harry Potter series.

For those who have spent nearly 15 years with the books and movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which premieres in London July 7 and opens worldwide from July 13, is the end — a final curtain falling on a narrative that has held them rapt for the bulk of their lives.

Since 1997, the fictional boy wizard has gathered a massive global following, with 28 million followers of the movies alone on Facebook - often dubbed the “Harry Potter generation”.

“Some of the most ardent fans feel that they grew up right alongside Harry; as he aged, so did they,” said Edmund Kern, a professor who teaches a Potter course at Lawrence University in Wisconsin and the author of The Wisdom of Harry Potter.

The seven books in the Potter series have sold nearly half a billion copies worldwide and the first seven movies have grossed $6,4 billion (R42,7 billion) for Warner Bros. since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone in 2001.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the books, has amassed more money than the queen of England and is heralded as a visionary for creating an alternative world to rival great works of fiction such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

For many fans, the release of the final book in 2007 was the end of Harry Potter, but others have clung to the movies as a way to keep Pottermania alive, and this Thursday’s movie premiere will give loyalists a second chance to say goodbye.

“I’m just really excited to see the end of the series play out on the big screen and go out with the bang it deserves,” said Paul Torres (19) of Dallas, Texas, who said he had got chills seeing the trailer for Deathly Hallows.

“It’s kind of cool to be able to look back and say that I remember each book being released, each movie coming out. It was without a doubt a large part of my childhood.”

Martin Richardson, a professor at Durham University and one of the first in Britain to teach a Harry Potter college course, said it was unlikely that the series’ sensational popularity would see an immediate drop-off after the final film.

Promises of a Harry Potter encyclopaedia and interactive website, let alone Potter-themed events and a theme park in Florida, will sustain fans immersed in the wizard’s world.

“‘Pottermania’ will not end in the foreseeable future: It is too deeply ingrained in the collective psyche of what has been dubbed ’The Harry Potter Generation’,” Richardson said. — Reuters.

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