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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Students witness Potter's last stand

After book parties, movie premieres, heated arguments and elaborate costumes, the Harry Potter generation may finally have to say, "Mischief managed."

It's the end of an era, the end of students' childhoods and possibly the end of the decade-old enmity between book fans and movie fans.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" premiered at 12:01 a.m. Friday across the United States, including Regal Gainesville Cinema 14 in Butler Plaza. Fans of the books and movies bought advance tickets and waited in line for hours to be among the first to see the final film.

UF senior theatre major Raquel Petree arrived a little before 2 p.m. on Thursday with her sister, Danielle Petree, 17, and their friend, Megan Hoyt, 16. They sat on a bench under the movie posters with magic wands in tow until a line formed behind them and the trio had to move forward onto the floor. They later found out their place in line didn't matter, since the theater staff let moviegoers in according to theater number.

All three fans have seen every movie, but none of them have read the books. Raquel Petree said she started with the movies and wants to see all of them before she starts any of the books.

Hoyt said her classmates at P.K. Yonge High School try to tell her how the series ends because she hasn't read the books.

"That's why I don't tell people," the younger Petree said of her movie-only fandom.

For senior Sarah Messer, to read or not to read is not a question.

"There's something really special about the way the books are written and how intricate the plot is that you can't put in the movie," she said.

Still a fan of the movies, she changed her Facebook profile picture to show a different Harry Potter movie character each day during the week before the movie release.

Psychology senior Caitlyn Jackson and seven of her friends dressed up as characters and items from the books, including Aberforth Dumbledore - complete with a drawing of a goat - the sword of Godric Gryffindor, Severus Snape as a seventh-year Hogwarts student, the Gringotts bank dragon and Bathilda Bagshot.

For Messer, the Harry Potter phenomenon is more than an interest. She has visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios six times in the past year.

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The final installment of the series is bittersweet for her, who, like countless other students, associates Harry Potter with her childhood.

"The sad thing is, the books are ending, the movies are ending, and I'm about to graduate," she said.

She plans to create a Pottermore account when the Harry-themed social site launches in the fall. "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling has promised fans more information about the Wizarding world with the site.

Pottermore.com's homepage describes the site as "an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books."

The movie made $170 million in North America over opening weekend, said Robbie Arrington, marketing manager for Regal Cinemas.

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