Midnight magic strikes Harry Potter fans

BY AMY MATTSON | JULY 15, 2009 7:15 AM

UI senior Diana Holtwick is more Hufflepuff than Hawkeye.

She owns a wand with a Veela hair in it and a T-shirt that proclaims “Screw college. I’m going to Hogwarts.” The die-hard Harry Potter fan designed the shirt herself, anticipating the 12:01 a.m. première of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Based on the popular fantasy book series by British author J.K. Rowling, the sixth of seven flicks made its début at theaters nationwide early this morning.

UI senior Kim Riha — a self-proclaimed Gryffindor — purchased seats in advance at Coral Ridge 10. It was her fourth midnight Harry Potter première.

“Midnight movies are more exciting,” she said. “That’s when the crazies come out.”

But theater goers Beth Snyder and Jessica Fulton consider themselves to be pretty sane. They’ve been to every Potter première, and they were the first in a long line of fans at Coral Ridge 10, camping out for 10 hours to snag the best seats in the house.

“It’s well worth the wait,” Fulton said.

Madhana Pandian sat farther down the row of Harry fanatics. After reading her first Potter book at age 10, she was hooked.

“I kept just kept waiting for the owl to come and invite me to Hogwarts,” she said . “But he never came.”

UI junior Matt Luebbert, was waiting for his owl too — or was it a rabbit? The UI junior couldn’t remember which, so he brought along a bunny puppet and top hat to complete his Harry costume. “I figured it was a safe choice,” he said. “It’s a magical movie.”

Carol Sokloff, a children’s book buyer at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St., said she’s seen an increase in the number of people purchasing the sixth book. And at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., librarian Jason Paulios noted all 13 copies are checked out.

He said the movie craze hasn’t sent fans into a frenzy as much as the Harry Potter book débuts.

“The books have a lot of innuendoes and character asides that a film just can’t do justice to,” Paulios said.

Holtwick didn’t take any chances when it came to scoring tickets to see her favorite boy wizard on the big screen. She snatched 15 tickets last week at Cedar Rapids’ Galaxy 16 and was looking to buy one more for her posse — only to find that all 1,250 seats were sold out.

“It’s a huge deal,” said Galaxy 16 employee Wendy Martin, who confirmed the theater was sold out. The theater gave out free movie passes to Potter trivia winners.

Locally, Sycamore 12 sold out its midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Coral Ridge 10 saw ticket lines beginning to form by 3 p.m.

UI senior Jason Richards is still working on finishing Rowling's book sequence. But that isn’t keeping him from the theater.

“The movie looks so awesome that I can’t wait,” he. “I’m anticipating a whole lot of pretty cool action.”

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