What Is It About Harry Potter?

I’m not sure I get it. Harry Potter 5 is likely to surpass Fandango’s opening day sales for Harry Potter 4. The movie is currently 97% of our tickets. Last night, more than 1,500 midnight show times were sold out, and near my house in Santa Monica, fans were milling about for a 2:55 a.m. show time. 2:55 a.m. ?!

What is it about Potter? Why would anyone in their right mind be standing in line at 2:55 in the morning? Yeah, I find the stories engaging, too, but 2:55 in the morning, on a weeknight, for a movie that’s not going to get out until the sun’s up?

Some more frenzied stats about the Harry Potter fan base from a recent Fandango survey:

  • 95% are planning to buy or have already pre-purchased a copy of the upcoming novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • 84% have read all six of the Harry Potter books.
  • 87% have seen all the Harry Potter movies in the theater.

    Now, I haven’t read any of the Potter books yet, but I have seen all the movies, and I have to say, that is some serious dedication from you Harry Potter fanatics. Part of my reason to see the movie is just to gauge the fan (as opposed to us casual viewers) reaction.

    Most of the nuances from the book series still fly right over my head…but I’m going to try to guess why the series is so appealing to everyone (or at least to me). From the untrained fan perspective, here are my three favorite things about the world of all things Potter...remember, I am a newbie, so feel free to enlighten me…

    Is it the Trio of Friends? I admit, it’s been fun to see the three lead actors grow up in front of our eyes. Rupert Gint’s endlessly amusing as the aloof but steady Ron Weasley. Emma Watson grows ever more luminous as resourceful Hermione Granger. And Daniel Radcliffe as Harry is a revelation. He's progressed from young, wide-eyed, and innocent to intelligent, brave and broodingly introspective. It's been easy to care about him, and care about this group.

    Is it Sirius Black? I really liked the introduction of Gary Oldman as Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, in The Prisoner of Azkaban, which added an element of credible poignancy. I enjoy Harry Potter's flights of fancy, but I'm even more of a fan of its underlying realism. It's great to see Oldman guide and protect Harry, and offer some important bits of knowledge.

    Or is it the Coming-of-Age of Mr. Potter? The best part of the films, for me, has been the story arc, from lighthearted youth to the darker elements of adolescence. It's been an increasingly engaging cinematic experience, and that really is a testament to the quality of the books...even for us who haven't read them.

    OK, but what do you say, the Harry Potter experts – what is it that so enchants you to read the books, see the movies, and stand in line 24-7? Our inquiring minds really are curious to know.
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