VOL. 115 | NO. 196 | Friday, November 16, 2001
By JENNIFER MURLEY
Harry Potter craze sweeps Memphis; movie opens tonight
By JENNIFER MURLEY
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.