For a group of teenagers dressed as Harry Potter characters at Cinemark Fayette Mall on Thursday, Harry's magic was real — at least, real enough to prompt them to wait in a tent outside the theater for 18 hours to see the final film in the series based on the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling.
Nathan Welleford, 18, Abbie Betts, 17, and Taylor Johnson, 18, all recent Tates Creek High School graduates, made sure they would be first in line to get into one of theater's 16 midnight screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 on the movie's opening night (opening morning, technically, since the first screenings were to start at 12:01 a.m. Friday).
Rowling wrote seven novels about Harry, a boy wizard. Deathly Hallows is the eighth — and final — movie based on the books.
"Security has come by three times, and they were confused," Betts said, referring to the friends' temporary encampment outside the theater. "The best part of the day was when we walked in and asked the manager where he wanted the line to start forming, and he said, 'Behind that awesome gray tent outside.' We were like, 'Yeah, that's us.'"
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Together, the three friends had been to the sixth and seventh Harry Potter movies and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando in Florida, and they bought their tickets to Deathly Hallows weeks ago. By 5 p.m. Thursday, they had been guarding their spot in line for 11 hours.
"We got here before the manager," Johnson said.
"And we only have seven more hours to go!" Welleford announced, sitting in a lawn chair inside a tent with food and various Potter paraphernalia. "My mom came by and brought the picnic basket; she's a big Harry Potter supporter as well."
Wednesday night, the friends threw "Harry Potter-palooza" at Betts' house. They planned the party for two years in anticipation of the movie series' finale. A broom made at the party hung outside their tent.
"We got two hours of sleep last night after Potter-palooza before we had to get up to come here this morning," Betts said. "But we're not going to fall asleep in the movie."
This generation of teen agers has grown up with Harry Potter. The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was released in the United States on Sept. 1, 1998, more than a year after it was published in England as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
"We started reading the books in first grade, and now we've graduated as it comes to a close," Marjorie Amon, 18, and a recent Bryan Station graduate, said after ordering a non-alcoholic butterbeer at The Pub on Thursday. The restaurant, near the Fayette Mall theater, served butterbeer and jelly slugs — both popular drinks at The Leaky Cauldron, a fictitious bar in the Potter novels — in honor of the movie opening.
Amon and friend Wilder Treadway, 17, were dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort, two major antagonists of the series. They claimed to belong to a group called The Deathly Fellows, a play on the movie's subtitle, The Deathly Hallows.
Treadway said he decided to dress up as "He Who Must Not Be Named" because he had "always been attracted to the more evil side of things," and at other premieres he had never seen a Voldemort.
"We're sad for it to end," Amon said, "and that's why we're going all-out tonight."