Fans, stars and Hollywood mourn end of Harry Potter magic

Wed Jul 6, 2011 8:36pm EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Film farewells don't get much bigger than Harry Potter, and thousands of fans prepared on Thursday to say goodbye to their beloved boy wizard 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 first in 3D -- of a franchise that has generated more public excitement and media hype than any other in living memory.

For Hollywood studio Warner Bros it has been a magic pot of gold, 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 author billionaire and providing a huge support base upon which the films built.

"We've grown up in the Harry Potter generation -- I read the first book when I was five so now it's weird that it's coming to an end ... like the end of childhood," said Rhys, an 18-year-old who braved the rain in London's Trafalgar Square.

Die-hard fans, some in full regalia from the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, have camped out since Monday to catch a glimpse of the stars as they walk the red carpet at the official world premiere.

The young actors, cast in their roles aged between nine and 11, said they too were struggling to get to grips with the post-Potter world, despite being A-list stars with huge personal fortunes.   Continued...

 
<p>Emma Watson who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter series of films, poses for photographers outside the St Pancras Hotel in London July 6, 2011. The final Potter film, "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part II" will premiere in London on July 7. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>