Harry Potter draws thousands in Columbia with midnight finale

Friday, July 15, 2011 | 10:36 a.m. CDT; updated 4:33 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Refreshments in hand, a single moviegoer enters Forum 8 Theaters moments after being granted entry. A multitude of fans looped around the perimeter of Forum 8, awaiting the midnight Thursday start time of the final installment in the Harry Potter film series.

COLUMBIA — Fans poured out in the thousands for the midnight showing of the final installment of the largest grossing film franchise in history.

There were 10 showings of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" at Hollywood-Stadium 14, one starting every 10 minutes beginning at 12:01 a.m., and one midnight showing at Goodrich Forum 8.

“This is one of, if not the biggest, opening night we have had at Hollywood-Stadium 14," said Joe McKie manager of Hollywood-Stadium 14. "Eight auditoriums have been sold out … Over 2,000 people are here tonight.”

McKie said staff changed normal procedures for midnight showings and let the crowd in early – around 9:30 p.m. – so they would not have to wait in line all evening.

There were rumors of people showing up to wait in line as early as 7 p.m.

Rachel Doisy and Hannah Grace, both 15, were decked out in full costume, including robes, ties and wands. They talked about their feelings on the franchise.

“I loved the books and am excited," Hannah said. "This is my first midnight premiere.”

The girls said they bought their tickets more than a month ago for the 12:20 a.m. show since the 12:01 a.m. show had sold out weeks before.

They said the books made them want to find more series like Harry Potter to keep reading.

Denyse Hathaway, 33, was dressed in full witch's garb.

“It’s unbelievably sad and makes you feel 'dementored,' the fun just sucked out of you,” she said of the series' end.

Hathaway, a recreational writer in her free time, said she is sad she will not be able to show her son this excitement about the books when he is older. She said she would share the books with her son to fill the void in her life.

Amy Norris, 19, was dressed in a Gryffindor costume from head to toe.

“I am very excited for the movie but very depressed that it is over,” she said. “It had to come to an end eventually.”

Norris said she started reading the books in second grade and they were a huge part of her life growing up.

“It was more than just magic — it was about friendship, life," she said. "It inspired people to read.”

Norris said she could remember when the new Harry Potter books would come out and people would sit for a week and just read them cover to cover. She said she feels e-books do not have the same effect on children today.

“I won't ever fully grow out of it," she said. "I will mature and grow out of it slightly but will still probably read them to my children.”

Melanie Ramos, 34, wearing an almost perfect replica of the Sorting Hat, said she cried when she saw the first five minutes of the last movie in a preview.

“It was crushing," Ramos said. "There was nothing sad in the preview, but just knowing it was ending.”

She said she was happy Warner Bros. decided to split the seventh movie to allow for more detail and storyline. She thought fans would have felt cheated if they were not given “everything” when it came to the final film.

Ramos said the series was very important to many people’s lives by making reading fun and enjoyable for an entire generation.

Now that the series is over, Potter fans will have to move on to new books, as Rachel and Hannah are doing, or share the Harry Potter books with future generations, as Norris and Hathaway plan to do.

And though there might be nothing new to come from the series itself, fans have indicated that Pottermania is nowhere close to being over.

For more on the Harry Potter phenomenon, including a refresher on earlier plots and pick up lines to use at the theater, visit Vox Magazine's blog.

Find Vox's review of the movie here. (Hint: they liked it.)

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