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VOL. 115 | NO. 196 | Friday, November 16, 2001

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Harry Potter craze sweeps Memphis; movie opens tonight

The Daily News
One small boy with a remarkable past is responsible for one big phenomenon sweeping Europe and the United States. His name? Harry Potter.
It began with the release of J.K. Rowlings first book in a series of seven, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone in 1997. Children around the world immediately embraced the main character and his supernatural life.

In the first book, 11-year-old Harry discovers his past when he receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once at the school, Harry and his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, embark on a series of adventures, on the way encountering a unique cast of characters.

The release of three more books added momentum to the growing Harry Potter movement, with curious adult readers joining their children just to see what all the fuss was about.
Today, the movement culminates in a movie release based on the book that started it all.
This is kind of a Star Wars event, said Jimmy Tashie, Malco Theatres Inc. senior vice president.  Weve actually had people camp out last night to buy tickets first thing this morning. That happened many years ago with Star Trek, and it happened with Star Wars.
Like other theatres in town, Malco began selling advance tickets on Wednesday for tonights premiere, but Tashie said other cities began selling tickets to anxious fans as early as Nov. 1, more than two weeks prior to the opening date.
Nine local Malco cinemas, including the Summer Drive-In, are allotting 20 movie screens to accommodate excited Potter fans.
Muvico employee Amanda Leddon said by noon Wednesday, she had already sold about 20 tickets.
I had a little boy come in here, he was 11, and he said Can we buy tickets for Harry Potter? I said yes, and he started jumping up and down, Leddon said. People are pretty excited about getting them.
Muvico will open the Harry Potter tale on five of its 22 screens, with one being Muvicos giant six-story, Imax-style screen. In fact, Leddon said by Wednesday they had already sold out of the 7:30 p.m. Friday movie on the giant screen. But, tickets were available for all other shows, which begin at 10 a.m. and the last show running at 12:30 a.m., amounting to 24 available showings on opening day at Muvico alone.
Employees at Ajay Theatres, which is opening the movie at both of its cinemas, said they would allot one to infinity, or however many screens it took to satisfy the desire to see the movie. But, as of Wednesday they were unsure how many screens would be available.
As movie houses brace for the craze, Harry Potter veterans, the local booksellers, dont expect much of change in the books brisk sales.
The demand for those books has actually been pretty steady, said Ivan Esteves, new books manager at Davis Kidd Booksellers. They have been best sellers all this time.
Books have been flying off the shelves as fast as a Nimbus 2000, Harrys racing broom, at Midtowns Burkes Books, as well, said manager Robb DeNyse.
They hit so big right from the start, and everybodys always anticipating the next one children and adults alike, DeNyse said. We havent felt an increase, just because its always been so high up there.
However, DeNyse said the movie might actually enlist new readers who maybe skipped the first book or who were simply inspired by the movie to read to the book.
Its a fun read, and good book thats strongly written thats why adults like it because they can enjoy it. Its not too juvenile, DeNyse said.
Part of the magnetism of Harry Potter books is their cross-generational appeal, as evidenced by the large number of adult fans, including Esteves, who said he finally succumbed to curiosity due to the mania surrounding the release of the fourth book.
When the first book came out, I didnt pay any attention to it. When the second book came out, I still didnt pay any attention. When the fourth book came out, we had this event, he said.
More than 800 Potter fans packed Davis Kidds East Memphis store to get the first copies of the book.
It was crazy, and I thought, Ive got to find out what this is all about, he said. So, I read the first one and immediately fell in love with it, and just kept reading all four of them.
Esteves said the wildly imaginative side of the stories is appealing to children, but the books are about much more. Really, its a coming of age story. (Potter) deals with some really difficult things.
Jason Haley, father of 9-year-old Cullen Haley, admitted hes not sure whats behind the broad-based enthusiasm since he has only read parts of the books. But he has watched his son read all four.
Maybe its a throwback to the J.R.R. Tolkien books that we read, it kind of reminds me of that, he said. Its exciting to have a book like that that kids are interested in again.

Tolkiens Lord of the Rings is heading to the big screen, as well.
Although Cullen has always been an avid reader, Haley said its good to see his continued interest in books in an age of home video games and cartoon networks.
If I say he can only play games for a half hour a day, he doesnt care. Hell go read.
Cullen, along with his family, including his little brother Ethan and his papaw, plan to see the movie Saturday at the Downtown Muvico, Haley said.
As for Cullen, he has been keeping a close eye on the movie release.

People in London were on the news that already saw it and it sounds good, he said.
When asked to enlighten the Harry Potter illiterate about the best scenes in the books, Cullen said, The end. Its always good at the end.

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