The magic of Harry Potter

by Mark Burger

A global phenomenon bows out in spectacular style

There is no question that Harry Potter has become a global phenomenon for the better part of a decade. From the publication of the first JK Rowling book, to each successive follow-up, Harry was a hit.

On page. On screen. Everywhere.

The summer of 2001 saw the release of the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which instantly became a smash hit. Six sequels have followed since, each so successful that the series has become one of the financial cornerstones of its (very lucky) studio, Warner Bros. Without exception, every film has been a guaranteed blockbuster.

Currently, to both commemorate and promote the franchise (is there any difference, in this case?), Harry Potter: The Exhibition, an extensive and expansive collection of props, costumes and memorabilia from the films, is on display at Discovery Times Square, smack in the middle of New York City. Admission’s only 25 bucks and, yes, there is a gift shop.

What was it the acidic Gotham gossip columnist JJ Hunsecker said in Sweet Smell of Success?

“I love this dirty town.” Of course, New York is hardly the only metropolis to have been rocked by Harry. There’s money (a lot of it) in magic, as Harry Potter has proven.

Even before its Gotham bow, Harry Potter:

The Exhibition was seen by over a million people since its introduction three years back, further adding to the Potter coffers.

The next (and last) big-screen installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, will be released by Warner Bros. On July 15. Back, as to be expected, for the swan song are Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron, and a who’s who of British stage and screen: Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary

Oldman, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Miranda Richardson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis, Warwick Davis, Jason Isaacs and Bonnie Wright.

There’s no reason to think that the new film won’t meet another smash. The first half of the final chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part I, was released last November and earned two Academy Award nominations. It also grossed almost $300 million in the US alone. The home-video release earlier this month further added to the take.

For those who are wild about Harry, Warner Bros. extends an invitation to fans to further the fun with Harry Potter: The Quest, a global online adventure being released in time to celebrate and commemorate the release of the new film.

Fans who register (details below) can play games, watch exclusive videos and embark on all-new Harry Potter adventures wherein they can earn points as a global community. Such is the magic of the internet, never mind boy wizards.

As said global community achieves a predetermined point level each week, they can earn such rewards as never-before-seen content from all the Harry Potter films and more. Registrants will be eligible to receive a cornucopia of Potter paraphernalia, including official Noble Collection Harry Potter merchandise, free tickets to the “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” exhibit at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, DVDs, Blu-rays, games and a veritable smorgasbord of souvenirs. There’s also a big sweepstakes opportunity to win tickets for two to attend the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part II in London. A subsequent sweepstakes opportunity will be announced later this year.

It’s the last blast for Harry Potter, and the series is going out in the spectacular style its legion of fans have been accustomed to ever since they turned the very first page. It’s not hocus-pocus, it’s Hollywood magic.

Registration for Harry Potter: The Quest is free. For more information, check out www.