published Friday, July 15th, 2011

Potter film series wraps after a decade of dominance

Chattaooine, a fan group, dressed as dozens of characters from the series for the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  They gathered outside of Rave Motion Pictures to celebrate the final movie of the series.
Chattaooine, a fan group, dressed as dozens of characters from the series for the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. They gathered outside of Rave Motion Pictures to celebrate the final movie of the series.
Photo by Jenna Walker.
PHOTOS FROM THE PREMIERE

See an album of photos from the midnight Harry Potter premiere in Chattanooga here.

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From a cramped cupboard under the stairs to silver screens the world over, Harry Potter has bewizarded readers and viewers for more than a decade.

Today, his spell will conclude in epic fashion with the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the eighth and final film of a series that began in 2001.

For local muggles, it’s an exciting, if bittersweet, moment.

“I am ecstatic. I can’t wait to see it,” said Amy Davenport, 22, who was first introduced to the series at age 11, when her older sister read her the novels as bedtime stories.

“I hope it has enough ‘whump’ to call it an end,” Davenport continued. “[But] it’s going to be sad. I think there will be much boohoo-ing in the theater when it’s over.”

The film depicts the second half of the last novel in author J.K. Rowling’s beloved series, culminating in the long-awaited battle between Harry and his archenemy, Lord Voldemort.

“Part 2” follows hot on the broom bristles of the first “Deathly Hallows” film, which released Nov. 19.

Fans reacted positively to splitting the final, 759-page novel into two films, a decision also supported by Rowling, according to interviews with series producer David Heyman.

Amber Fults, 25, became a Potter fan after watching the first film, “Sorcerer’s Stone,” when she was 16. A lifelong fan of the novels, Fults said she couldn’t conceive of doing the final book justice with just one film.

“I was going to be really upset if they didn’t [make two films],” Fults said. “There’s so much in that book, and it’s the end of the entire series. To me, it was absolutely imperative that they split it up.”

The “Deathly Hallows” novel was released July 21, 2007.

Despite being aware of how the story ends, fans said seeing the climax on the big screen will still be exciting.

“We’ve read the end of it, and it’s very real,” Davenport said. “Seeing it fleshed out in color is going to be phenomenal.”

Andrea Kuchta, 21, said she has loved Harry Potter since she saw the second film, “Chamber of Secrets,” at age 12. For years, she stuck to watching the movies, avoiding the novels for fear the films would pale in comparison.

In preparation for “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” however, Kuchta decided the books would provide much-needed context for the cinematic finale, so she read all seven, back to back.

Her fears proved true, but despite liking the books more, the movies still have a strong appeal, Kuchta said.

“I’m excited to see the end, but I’m sad to see it end,” she said. “You fall so much in love with ... the characters that it’s sad that you won’t see anymore stories about them.”

Many Potter fans said one of the most compelling elements of the series is how the characters and storyline matured with them.

Being able to empathize with characters with similar motivations is one of the reasons Harry Potter commanded such loyalty among young readers, said Fran Bender, the assistant provost for student retention and services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“The content changed a little bit and became more mature as the ... kids were growing up,” she said. “These relatable characters remind us of us. That’s compelling.”

Bender used Harry Potter as source material for her British children’s literature study abroad course “From Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter.” Although her roster was primarily students 19-21 years old, they had grown up with Harry Potter, which made the material more appealing, she said.

Harry Potter’s role in reigniting interest in reading is a legacy that will last long after the film credits fade to black, Bender said.

“Children who hadn’t read books before [were] staying up and reading or going to a bookstore at midnight dressed up and waiting for a book,” she said. “Children were able to see that, ‘If I can like this book, I can like other books.’ ”

“That the movie is coming out this weekend is a little sad because it’s the end of a great ride for [Rowling] and for all of us.”

SET YOUR TIME TURNERS

[Note: Book releases based on UK]

1997: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (book)

1998: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (book)

1999: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (book)

2000: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (book)

2001: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (film)

2002: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (film)

2003: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (book)

2004: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (film)

2005: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (film) / “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (book)

2007: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (film) / “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (book)

2009: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (film)

2010: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” (film)

2011: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” (film)

SLEIGHT OF HAND

Here are 10 things you may not have known about the Harry Potter series:

10 The tattoos on Sirius Black’s body in “Prisoner of Azkaban” were inspired by actual tattoos worn by Russian prison gangs.

9The iconic opening strains of the Harry Potter theme were performed on the celesta, a keyboard-operated instrument rarely used in orchestral settings.

8Actress Emma Watson, who portrays Hermione, was born in Paris.

7The novel for “The Deathly Hallows” sold 15 million copies in its first 24 hours.

6The Order of the Phoenix is an actual award conferred on Greek citizens and foreign citizens who have helped promote the country.

5After “Prisoner of Azkaban,” “The Half-Blood Prince” was the only Harry Potter film to receive a PG rating. All the rest were PG-13.

4The British title of the first film was changed from “The Philosopher’s Stone” to “The Sorcerer’s Stone” for the American release. All the scenes mentioning the titular stone were filmed twice.

3The International Quidditch Association, a real athletic league, was founded in 2007. As of 2010, the association had been contacted by more than 1,000 prospective teams from 13 countries wanting to join.

2Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling share a birthday: July 31.

1Hogwarts’ motto, “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus” roughly translates to: “Let sleeping dragons lie.”

SPELLBINDING STATISTICS

$6.34 billion

Total amount grossed by the first seven Harry Potter films.

1,048 minutes Runtime of the series, so far.

$100,779 Amount of money the series has grossed, per second of runtime.

22 years, 14 days Average age of the three main actors.

12 years, 136 days average age of the three main actors when series started.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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