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Potter series begins its end

Nov. 19, 2010

McClatchy Tribune News Service
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) star in Warner Bros. Pictures' "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1," the seventh film in the series.

By Robyn Sanders

Both greatly anticipated and deeply bittersweet, the first part of the Harry Potter film finale, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" hit theaters today. Some Baylor Potter fans are having mixed feelings about the end of the film adaptations of the globally popular series.

"When the books ended, it was sad, but there was always the continuance of the movies to look forward to," Dallas sophomore Jennifer Browder said. "Now that the movies are coming to an end, Harry Potter is gone; there's no more."

Many fans feel like there never has been anything quite like the phenomenon of "Harry Potter." Before the hit series, midnight book releases were nearly unheard of, and neither was an eight-part film series. Considering the degree of worldwide infatuation with the boy wizard that has been mounting for more than a decade, it is hard to say if a blockbuster book and film series like "Harry Potter" will ever be repeated.

"Never, to my knowledge, has there been a book series that has been translated to film in this compressed amount of time with a kind of fidelity to the books." said Dr. James Kendrick, assistant professor of film and digital media in the communication studies department.

"Harry Potter" is much more than a franchise to many students. Corpus Christi junior Abigail Pitzer credits the series with kindling her love of reading.

"I didn't read anything before Harry Potter," Pitzer said, "but after Harry Potter, I never pulled my nose out of a book for anything."

Houston junior Maddee Schrader said she read the books during the summer before she started college.

"I got the books from the library and I probably read all seven of them over three months," she said.

Kendrick says that one of the culturally beneficial attributes of "Harry Potter" is bringing kids back to books.

"Yes, children read them, but adults read them as voraciously as kids do, and it's something that parents and their kids can read together." Kendrick said. "It's one of the first series in a while that I think is truly going to be around a hundred years from now."

Considering how meaningful the "Harry Potter" series has been to so many students, it's no wonder that sentiments are running high at the approach of the seventh film, just as they undoubtedly did when the seventh book was released in 2007. This time, however, the anxiety isn't over what's going to happen at the end, but whether the film will live up to "Potter" fans' high expectations.

"I like the books better than the movies, but I'm interested to see if they do the last book justice in the film," Schrader said.

Pitzer said she was concerned that the movie would not uphold the quality of the book.

"Harry Potter has already kind of come to an end, so I think it'll be a little easier to finalize it with the movie," Pitzer said.

Whether the outlook on the final "Potter" film is cynical or optimistic, fans agreed that the film franchise as a whole has had a vast impact on how Hollywood will undertake movies like this in the future.

"What ['Harry Potter'] has done is really drawn the studios' attentions to the vast economic benefit of finding a series like that that they can draw out over years of time," Kendrick said, "because let's face it, a 'Harry Potter' movie is as close to a sure thing as you can possibly imagine. The saying in Hollywood is "nobody knows anything," but everybody knows that a Harry Potter movie is going to be a massive hit. [Author J.K Rowling] really found a way to connect with a lot of people on a lot of levels and create something beloved. That's really rare."

In the minutes leading up to each showing in movie theaters across Waco, expect to see "Potter" fans chattering with excitement or wringing their hands in nervous anticipation. For everyone who read Harry Potter's story with wide eyes and a pounding heart, who waited for their Hogwarts Letter on their 11th birthday (whether they will admit it or not) and were sorely disappointed when it never came, and who still get chills when hearing John Williams' "Hedwig's Theme," the wait is over, and audience excitement couldn't be greater.