Monday, July 20, 2009

Hogwarts hysteria

REGIONAL—Quidditch, muggles and the never-ending magical quest to defeat You-Know-Who.


You shouldn’t be.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth installment in the Harry Potter film franchise, which is based on the series of eight books about a young wizard penned by British author J.K. Rowling, sold $53.38 million in movie tickets in the United States and Canada on its opening day Wednesday, according to Warner Bros.

N’West Iowa was no exception to the mania.

Children, teenagers and parents flocked to Sheldon, Orange City and Sioux Center for a chance to purchase tickets for the midnight showing of the film.

John Ihle, manager of Holland Plaza in Orange City and Main Street 3 in Sheldon, said tickets for the 12:05 a.m. showing of “Half-Blood Prince” were sold out by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Orange City.

Muggles, or nonmagical people in Harry Potter lingo, stood in lines prior to the Sheldon showing waiting for the theatre to open at 11:30 p.m., tickets still were available at the start of the premier. They did sell out soon after.

“It’s such a good series, and there’s really a lot to it,” Ihle said, of the large turnout.

The Sheldon and Orange City movie theatres were not the only “Half-Blood Prince” premieres Potterites flocked to. The 12:01 a.m. showing of the film also sold out at Cinema 5 in Sioux Center.

The film originally was scheduled to be released on Nov. 21, but Warner Bros. decided to hold off the sixth installment until summer, hoping for a larger box office turnout.

Ihle said the company hit box office gold with its decision.

“Everybody thought when they had delayed it from November to now that it would hurt them, but it didn’t,” he said. “People just love Harry Potter.”

That may be an understatement.

Sheldon residents Joelle Brown, 17, Kristine Arnold, 18, Jackie Klein, 16, and Becky Oldenkamp, 21, proved their love for the series on multiple occasions throughout the week.

Prior to the midnight showing in Sheldon, Arnold hosted a Harry Potter-themed party at her house.

Friends of the four dressed up as characters ranging from Molly Weasley, Bill Weasley and Cho Chang to professor Sybill Trelawney, Hermoine Granger, Nymphadora Tonks, Luna Lovegood and, of course, Harry Potter.

At about 10:20 p.m., the group headed to Main Street 3 for a Harry Potter prerelease party sponsored by KIWA Radio and waited for the theatre doors to open so they could get the best seats.

Not showing the slightest bit of sleep depravity from the two-and-a-half hour movie, which released at about 2:40 a.m. Wednesday, Brown, Arnold, Oldenkamp and Klein were dressed in their Potter garb and ready to host Harry Potter Fest at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Sheldon Public Library.

More than 30 area children attended the event, which featured scenes from the fictional Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and the Great Hall, located within Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Prior to the festival, children’s librarian Karla Robinet, dressed as Hogwarts’ professor Minerva McGonagall, placed the sorting hat on each participant, which deemed who should be placed in each of the four houses — Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.

After receiving their designated house badge, Klein, dressed as Nymphadora Tonks, drew marker lightning bolt scars, similar to the one Harry Potter dons, on each of the children’s foreheads. Oldenkamp, dressed as Hogwarts’ gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid, stood at Gringotts Wizarding Bank and handed out galleons, knuts and sickles, for each participant to buy Harry Potter-themed candy and toys at each station in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

The group also engaged in Potter-riffic Jeopardy, a Quidditch relay race and Scene It? Harry Potter Edition, a DVD-based board game.

Robinet said the library also had a celebration when “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was released in 2007 and plans to do more when the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows,” is released in two movies in 2010 and 2011.

“There’s no question,” she said.


How did the movie “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” compare to the book?

“I’m fine with the movies, but I’m always slightly disappointed because I love the books so much. They missed some things, but it was OK.”
Joelle Brown, 17, Sheldon

“It was the best one so far.”
Kristine Arnold, 18, Sheldon

“It was the best of the six, but it really played up the romance.”
Jackie Klein, 16, Sheldon

The fictional Harry Potter will celebrate his birthday on July 31. As the wizard was born in 1980, he will celebrate his 29th birthday later this month.

This article appeared in the July 18, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

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