Last night was the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Curious about the pointy hat/bathrobe/nerdliness count in this first of the last book in the series, we sent intern Myles to go check things out. What he found, however, was actually kinda fun, and even a little bit…touching. (Not in that way.)
I took my place in line at the AMC Loews at 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. Though I got there three hours before midnight, I was probably the 200th person in line, and one of the few not dressed up (note, for part 2). The most common costume was, of course, Harry himself, simply achieved via a red-and-yellow striped scarf and round framed glasses. Some had the added benefit of dress robes. Then there were girls dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange, the crazed female villain played in the movies by Helena Bonham Carter, which is sort of the Princess Leia of Harry Potter costumes.
Because everyone’s waiting for the same damn thing, there’s this weird and somewhat un-New Yorky situation in which people actually begin to talk to one another. “What’s your favorite book!?” and “HOW EXCITED ARE YOU!?” were the two main questions of the night. My favorite moment was a guy asking his friend for his phone back because, “I really need to tweet about this. This line is crazy right now!”
We were slowly but surely shuffled into the theater’s screening rooms, all of which were playing the movie. And what could’ve been a wizard stampede was reduced to a calm procession. Impressive.
I was led into one of the smaller rooms at 10:00, which left me two hours for the movie to start. Everyone in front of me was on their phones — typical millennials. At 11:30, “Hermoine” (probably a theater employee doing overtime) came into our theater to ask us H.P. trivia. Pretty much everyone except me knew Ron’s middle name was Bilius. D’oh. When asked, the majority of people chose Gryffindor as their favorite house, and three girls dressed as Dobby the house elf (short tattered blue dresses and pointy ears) really wanted to make out with Ron.
By 11:55, the crowd began to grow restless. At 12:01, the official start time of the film, our screen was still asking us to rearrange “OGIY RAEB” to “YOGI BEAR.” People started freaking out. A girl made everyone nervous by asking if we were in the wrong theater. A girl’s boyfriend ran out to talk to management, and she reassured us her “boyfriend would save the day.” People sitting in the back row began to bang on the glass windows that looked into the projection room. It was a madhouse. The wizards were going crazy.
Thankfully, at 12:10, the lights shut off and the film began right away — no previews. Seeing the movie in a theater packed to the brim with Potter-nuts was fun because they’re all so invested in every word. You can almost imagine them running home to compare the film’s dialogue to their tattered copies of their holy books. The laughs were heartier, the cheers were louder, and the tears came more frequently than they would if I were to see the movie like a “normal person.” [Ed. note: Myles points out that he did not cry, though it WAS sad.]
As I left the theater pretty blown away by the movie, I looked around the wizards and witches who now had to go back to a normal life. Their night of being “magical” was now coming to an end. Friends with pointy hats held each other close, some laughing, some crying. They’d have to wait until July to dust off their robes and take out their wands again — for the last time. That will mark the end of the Harry Potter franchise — though from what I saw last night, the magic for these fans will never be gone completely.