Fans, stars, Hollywood say farewell to Harry Potter

Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:39pm EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White and Alysha Love

LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of fans braved rain and battled security restrictions in London's Trafalgar Square on Thursday to say farewell to the boy wizard Harry Potter at the world premiere of the final movie in the record-breaking series.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" is the eighth installment -- and the first in 3D -- of a franchise that has generated more public excitement and media hype than any other in living memory.

The silver screen adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione have been a magic pot of gold for Hollywood studio Warner Bros, with the seven films released so far grossing $6.4 billion in ticket sales and billions more from DVDs and merchandise.

For a generation of Potter fans, the movies have extended the wizarding world created by British author J.K. Rowling in her seven-book saga which began in 1997 and concluded in 2007.

More than 400 million copies have been sold around the globe, making Rowling the first billionaire author and providing a huge support base upon which the films were built.

Six-foot-high fences blocked off entrance to Trafalgar Square for hundreds who arrived too late to get their hands on the red wristbands, which allowed access to where stars walked the red carpet among thousands of screaming Pottermaniacs.

"I'm just going to stand here all night on this little ledge," said 16-year-old Lauren Kent, who arrived too late to acquire one of the prized wristbands and was perched at the base of a column across from the square.

Thousands of die-hard fans lucky enough to make it into the packed square -- some in full regalia from the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry -- screamed out the names of characters and those of stars such as Daniel Radcliffe as they walked the red carpet past a giant TV screen to a raised platform where the main cast spoke to cheering fans.   Continued...