Harry Potter fans flock to Columbia for midnight movie release

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | 12:27 a.m. CDT; updated 8:33 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 15, 2009

COLUMBIA — It’s been a long two years in the desert for Harry Potter fans since the last Potter movie came out, but fans finally found an oasis this week. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth movie in the Potter franchise, hit theaters Wednesday.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was originally scheduled to be released Nov. 21, 2008, but Warner Brothers announced last August that the film would be pushed back until July 17 to take advantage of a sparse summer movie lineup — a result of the 2007-08 writer’s strike.

See "Half-Blood Prince" this weekend

Hollywood 14

2800 Goodwin Pointe

10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Times accurate for Wednesday through Sunday.

Forum 8

1209 Forum Katy Parkway

Wednesday and Thursday: 10:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:10 p.m., 9:50 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 10:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:10 p.m., 9:50 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 12:10 a.m.

Sunday: 10:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9:10 p.m., 9:50 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

The movie is about 153 minutes long.

For more times beyond this weekend, check the theaters’ Web sites.

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In April, the studio pushed the release date up to July 15 in order to "get a head start on the weekend."

After having to wait an extra eight months, many fans have anxiously been awaiting their next Potter fix.

By 10 p.m., more than 60 people were lined up outside of Hollywood 14, gathered in groups. Some played games and others clutched their "Half-Blood Prince" books, reacquainting themselves with the text before the movie.

Theater workers mingled with the groups, making sure those with 12:01 a.m. tickets weren't accidentally in the line for the 12:10 a.m. showing and that those with online ticket vouchers were given actual tickets.

Although most patrons at Hollywood 14 were dressed in regular clothes or simply Harry Potter-related T-shirts, Aimee Hukill went all-out with her costume choice: She dressed as the Whomping Willow, an enchanted tree with a significant role early in the series.

Hukill, 22, said she gathered the supplies for her costume, which included a green shirt and shorts, two branches and fake moss taped to her shirt, in 20 minutes.

“I don’t look like any of the characters,” she explained. “And I wanted to be something different.”

Other movie-goers took on more traditional personas. Kayla Doolady, 14, and Celeste Baker, 13, dressed as characters Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger, respectively. Both girls said they felt like they were very similar to the characters the chose.

“I’m very booky” like Hermione, Baker said.

Lauren Anderson, 22, wasn't dressed as any character in particular, but she has taken her love of Harry Potter to the next level in a very permanent way.

“How many people do you know with a Harry Potter tattoo?” she asked.

When she was 20, Anderson had “expecto patronum” tattooed on her left leg. Expecto patronum is a spell in the Potter world used to cast away evil, soul-sucking prison guards called dementors.

“I got (the spell tattoo) because it’s the embodiment of all hope, happiness and faith,” she said.

At the witching hour Tuesday night, "Half-Blood Prince" was to be shown on nine screens in Columbia. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Forum 8 theater had sold all 930 seats allotted for the movie, assistant manager Amber Kinney said. According to box-office worker Casey Barger, Hollywood 14’s four Potter screens, which accommodate between 200 to 250 patrons each, were also sold out.

Jake Glascock, 25, Thinks he bought the last ticket in town. On Tuesday morning, Glascock drove to Forum 8 to buy a ticket before being told the shows were sold out. He then called Hollywood 14 and was told there were two tickets left. By the time Glascock reached the theater at 12:12 p.m., there was only one left. He bought it.

Other patrons grabbed up their tickets a long time ago. Eileen Brawley suspects she was the first person to buy tickets at Hollywood 14. Her tickets for herself and three children, Cheyenne, 16, Steven, 15, and Aaron, 11, were numbered “Adult 01,” “Child 01,” “Student 01” and “Student 02."

“I don’t remember when we bought them," she said. "I just know I kept calling and calling."

On Monday, movie ticket Web site’s movie blog reported that “Half-Blood Prince” was on track to take over the No. 3 spot on the Web site’s all-time advance ticket sales list. Currently, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” “The Dark Knight” and “Twilight” occupy the top three places.

It appears that the fan community will have to wait another two years before the movie series concludes. The seventh and final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is to be be released in two movie installments, with the first part hitting theaters on Nov. 19, 2010 and the second part on July 15, 2011.

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