Harry Potter junkies from Missouri to the Middle East, rejoice — you’re about to get a major Harry fix.
Ten days of pure Potter bliss will soon ensue, beginning with the opening of the fifth film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” this week and culminating with the release of the seventh and final novel, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” on July 21.
Come midnight Tuesday, Columbia’s two major multiplexes, Hollywood 14 and Forum 8, will join theaters worldwide as they burn the midnight potion and welcome moviegoers to late-night releases of the fifth Potter flick.
“I definitely plan on getting there five hours early,” said Crystal Wagner, 18. “You have to get there really early with big groups if you want to sit together. We’re going to order in food and bring a laptop so we can watch the other (Harry Potter) movies.”
Looking to get in on the midnight screening madness but don’t have your tickets yet? Relax, Muggles. You won’t have to sneak under Harry’s invisibility cloak to catch a glimpse of him embarking on more Hogwarts escapades with Ron and Hermione.
Hollywood 14 and Forum 8 representatives said they have plenty of tickets left and are prepared to show the film on additional screens if the crowds are too large.
“We usually have about three theaters sell out,” said Stevie Calvin, assistant manager of Hollywood Stadium. “Probably around 400 to 600 people will show up.”
Amanda Wilson, general manager of Forum 8, said her theater will show “Order of the Phoenix” on two to four screens and expects a crowd of 500 to 700 Potter patrons. Both theaters will continue to sell tickets at the door Tuesday night, so stragglers or adults who have gone for dinner beforehand won’t miss out.
The hordes of hungry Harry fans expected by Columbia’s theaters shed a local light on the international spell cast by J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter film and novel franchise.
Wagner said she thinks Rowling’s ability to weave a complex, creative story over time has contributed to the franchise’s explosive worldwide popularity.
“J.K. Rowling is a genius,” Wagner said. “I started doing research on the books, and it wasn’t until I really started digging deep and scrutinizing details that I recognized what a genius she really is.”
Globally, the first four movies grossed over $3.5 billion, according to The-Numbers.com, a box office data site. The six Potter novels have sold over 325 million copies, making Rowling the world’s first billionaire author, according to Forbes Magazine.
Pottermania has even seeped into everyday language. “Muggle,” the word used for a human who doesn’t have magical abilities, was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2003.
Harry Potter’s influence has done more than creep into language — it’s slithered into everyday life, too. Some Missouri Potter fans have incorporated wizard-inspired themes into their leisure time.
Wagner said she’s heard of a soccer game used in practices called “quidditch” which puts a Muggle spin on the fictional wizarding sport.
Josh Wright, 21, said his friends have used Potter as an excuse to blow things up.
“(My friends) already had a ‘Wizard’s Duel’ this weekend,” Wright said. “A ‘Wizard’s Duel’ means shooting roman candles at one another whilst shouting magic phrases.”
Wright said he is taking off work Tuesday so he can spend the day catching up on the previous flicks. He plans to attend a midnight showing with friends.
He’ll be just one of many in a crowd of diverse moviegoers who have fallen prey to the pervasive pop-cultural power of Potter.
“I remember from last time I went to the midnight show,” Wagner said. “You’ve got the little kids whose parents will let them stay up late. You’ve got the middle schoolers and high schoolers in their dress-up gear, T-shirts and stuff like that. You even have older people, too. I’ll be there wearing a ‘Voldemort Sucks’ shirt.”