Local fans wild about Harry
A large group of “Harry Potter” fans could have used an Invisibility Cloak.
They started showing up at the Edwards Fresno Stadium 22 & IMAX about 11 p.m. Wednesday — 25 hours before the midnight showings of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ — but were promptly turned away by security.
It wasn’t until 6 a.m. Thursday that the lines started forming. People rushed to form the lines like a Seeker chasing a Golden Snitch. By midday, the area outside Edwards looked like a “Harry Potter” convention with moviegoers dressed as their favorite characters, games being played to pass the time and plenty of talk about how exciting — and bittersweet — it would be to see the final film in the eight-part series.
Hours before the midnight showings were to start, local fans had bought enough tickets to sell out 34 screens for the midnight showings in Fresno and Clovis — including all 22 at Edwards. There were six sold-out midnight screenings at the Regal Visalia Stadium 10.
By 9 p.m., Sierra Vista Cinemas 16 in Clovis had about 100 seats left in its 14 theaters showing the last offering in the “Harry Potter” film franchise. Regal Manchester 16 had 8 theaters showing the film and 180 seats left.
The local mania was repeated across the country. Fandango, an online ticket seller, sold more midnight and early morning show tickets for the “Part 2″ premiere than it had for the late-night openings of any other movie, including kicking the ticket butts of “The Dark Knight” and “New Moon.”
More than 6,000 midnight shows across the country were sold out on Fandango.
The “Harry Potter” movies always have done great box-office business. The first seven installments have made more than $6.3 billion worldwide.
There’s a particular passion for this eighth film because it ends the long running story of the boy wizard’s fight with the evil Dark Lord Voldemort.
From his vantage point just outside the doors of Edwards, moviegoer Tom Henderson watched the madness that took over the River Park courtyard. He arrived before the sun to make sure a family tradition continues.
“We have been first in line for every ‘Harry Potter’ movie. There’s really no need for all of this because you can get a ticket tomorrow morning. It’s just become a family tradition,” Henderson says. “Our son wasn’t a big reader but when he started reading the ‘Harry Potter’ books we all got involved.”
The 58-year-old Fresno photographer, his wife, Irene, son, Erik, daughter, Nicole and his niece and nephew, Alison and Zack, come prepared for the long wait. A blue-and-white cooler in front of Henderson held a car battery and adapter to power his laptop computer and cell phone through the day.
“I can actually get more work done out here than in the office,” Henderson said.
To create some sense of order, Edwards management set up different lines for each of the 22 theaters. Amy Busch, 18, of Reedley was one of the moviegoers who arrived early to stake out a spot and was seated with four friends at the front of the line for her theater. She actually was with a group of 18 people, but because the others arrived later they were not sitting together.
Melanie Montoya, 16, of Clovis repeated the recurring sentiments among those in line: “I am happy, but I am sad.”
Many of the fans have spent most of their lives reading the books and/or watching the movies.
Cassidy Alvarez, 16, of Fresno was looking forward to some key scenes involving her favorite characters that she was sure would make her cry.
The thousands who lined up hours before the doors opened were not the first locals to see the movie. A few hundred “Harry Potter” enthusiasts got to see an advance screening Monday.
Reaction from those fans also was a combination of excitement and sadness.
Donald Burdette, 52, of Clovis, saw Monday’s screening with his daughter, Sarah.
“On the drive home, my daughter and I discussed the finer aspects of the last film. I was a little saddened to think that we would never again have the opportunity to discuss a new ‘Harry Potter’ book or film,” said Burdette. “Sure, there will be other books and movies that we will read and see together, but they will not be part of my kid’s childhood in the way ‘Harry Potter’ was.”
By Rick Bentley / The Fresno Bee