Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Made the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince midnight premiere scene on Tuesday at 12:01 am, thanks to my 13-year-old, who previously had attended a HP midnight book release party and thought it grand fun.

I would not have even thought of going, but she had been counting down the days to opening all through vacation (actually, since the opening date was announced, which seems like years ago). The plan had been to go on Wednesday—early—but something sparked her mid-morning shriek of possibility at the idea of stepping out for the premiere. It didn’t take that much cajoling; there’s something absolutely collegiate to be firmly middle-age and heading out into the warm summer night—a work night at that—to be a part of a great cultural mosh-pit.

My entourage of 15 and 13 year old young women was bouncing off the car windows, off the sidewalk, off the concession stand .... you get the idea.  

The movie played on four screens at the multiplex. We ordered tickets online, which was new for me but proved very beneficial, as was arriving at quarter-to-eleven. I was surprised that there were only a handful of older teens gathered in front of the theater at that hour, several in HP-style outfits.

There was barely anyone in the theater when we settled into it. By ten minutes to midnight, though, it would be packed with bodies, giving off an energy comparable to the moments just before a championship football game.

I must say that AMC did nothing to make the evening fun or unique or memorable, except open the doors. The hour-plus before the film rolled was filled with the same on-screen multiplex drek-mix of stupid “Did you Knows” and movie title jumbles and the like. Then, of course, the 30-minutes of "First Looks" and TV commercials—“if you think you have been the victim of lead paint poisoning, call the law offices of blah blah blah.”

Finally, at about 12:20—in the morning—the 2:33-minute film flickered on the screen, less to shrieks of joy than to sighs of relief that the bloody thing was finally starting.

You’ll read scads of reviews elsewhere. My only comment about the film itself is that it played like a high school light-romance film woven through some special-effects action. Cute, I thought, knowing the characters, but you really have to know the series to appreciate this installment.

When it was over, I was most surprised by the spare and tepid applause that greeted the credits. Was that indifference, disappointment or just plain exhaustion?

My house quieted down around four o'clock to the re-playing of Harry Potter, the first. Having seen them all myself, to me that remains my favorite; it was the best, most complete, most entertaining of the lot.

But last night was not about the film; it was all about being there.



  1. 4 auditoriums? HA! We sold out 10 auditoriums and interlocked 1 print with 5 projectors on the upper level.

    Your AMC sounds lame. I try to make a difference. I wanted to play the score on the PA system but my Manager said no (cause he's an ass), but I do go into the auditoriums and pump up the crowd beforehand. I did it for The Dark Knight. I did blast some Jablonsky during Transformers midnight screening in the booth though as we threaded everything up

  2. I appreciated this review, Steve. I agree -- sometimes going to the movies is not about the movie -- it's about the moment, the point in time, the event, the people you are with. I had a similar experience when I brought a group of younger neighborhood children to see the first STAR WARS film soon after it was released. Same with bringing a group of girls to see GREASE when it was first released. Or, when I saw ET for the first time in the theater and listened to a young boy sitting in front of me telling his grandfather, "Granddaddy, wait until you see...." It was obviously the child's second (or third or ?) time he was seeing the film and he was bouncing in his seat with excitement to share this film with his grandfather. I don't remember much about these aforementioned films, with the exception of GREASE (and only because I've seen the musical recently), but I'll remember the excitement and energy of "BEING THERE," as you so appropriately worded it. In your case, your 13 and 15 year old women will remember YOUR BEING THERE at that special moment in time for the dark the dark of the night.